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BERKELEY, Calif. -- As Save Mart begins opening Lucky-bannered stores on the West Coast, the retail banner might still be up for grabs, according to a decision released last week by the 9th Circuit court.
Grocery Outlet, Save Mart's rival for the use of the once-mighty California banner, said in a statement that the three-judge 9th Circuit court panel left undecided a key issue, which is establishing Grocery Outlet's required burden of proof; the court did not explain to what degree the company would have to prove that the Lucky supermarket brand was abandoned by Albertsons, Grocery Outlet said.
Grocery Outlet's co-c.e.o. Eric Lindberg said he believes his company will prevail at trial. "I am very confident that Grocery Outlet will be able to prove that Albertsons abandoned the Lucky name, no matter what burden of proof is applied," he said. "It is clear that Grocery Outlet was the first to use the Lucky name after Albertsons abandoned it. It is evident that they had no intention to use the name -- just to sell it, which is exactly what they did."
In April of 2006, Grocery Outlet had opened the first new Lucky store since 1999. Albertsons sued, and had Grocery Outlet temporarily enjoined from using the banner.
All Northern California Albertsons stores were subsequently sold to Save Mart, which is converting all of the purchased Bay Area locations to Lucky, Grocery Outlet said.
Lindberg said Grocery Outlet has no intention of abandoning the case, and added that if his company prevails in court, Save Mart would be required to remove the Lucky banner from its stores.
"We intend to win this case at trial and use the Lucky brand in the future," Lindberg said. Grocery Outlet has already won the rights to the famous former Lucky brands Lady Lee, Harvest Day, and Key Buy, and is currently releasing products under those names.