Estee Lauder Sued by Duty Free Americas Over Airport Stores

Estee Lauder Cos. (EL) was accused in an antitrust lawsuit of improperly helping squeeze Duty Free Americas Inc.’s stores out of airports.

Duty Free Americas alleges that Estee Lauder undertook a campaign of anti-competitive activity to drive it out of business, according to the complaint filed today in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,

Duty Free Americas and its competitors purchase products from a small group of name-brand manufacturers, and bid against one another to sell duty-free concessions at airports, according to the complaint.

Estee Lauder started competing for those stores, cut off the supply of its products to Duty Free Americas, and pointed to the loss of those brands “as a reason Duty Free Americas should be found unqualified to operate in any airport,” according to the complaint.

Estee Lauder frustrated Duty Free Americas’ efforts to “sell new and different brands that did and would compete with Estee Lauder brands,” according to the complaint.

Duty Free Americas seeks a court order ending Estee Lauder’s alleged anticompetitive practices and unspecified damages, according to the complaint.

A representative of New York-based Estee Lauder wasn’t immediately available after regular business hours to comment on the lawsuit, and didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

The case is Duty Free Americas Inc. v. The Estee Lauder Companies Inc., 12-cv-60741, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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