Stanley Black & Decker Sues Sears Over Breach of Contract

Searching for a Silver Lining, It's More Trouble As Stanley Black & Decker Sues Sears

Searching for a Silver Lining, It’s More Trouble As Stanley Black & Decker Sues Sears

We’re less than two years from Stanley Black & Decker’s purchase of Craftsman from Sears. And as Sears is emerging from bankruptcy proceedings, it’s facing a breach of contract lawsuit over it.

10-Second Summary

  • Craftsman Ultimate Collection is at the heart of the lawsuit
  • Stanley Black & Decker bought Craftsman from Sears in 2017 for $900 million
  • Sears is allowed to sell a limited Craftsman line under the deal
  • The lawsuit claims Sears breached the terms of the licensing agreement and threatens to irreparably harm SBD’s Craftsman brand

When it Rains…

When Stanley Black & Decker paid $900 million for the Craftsman brand back in 2017, part of the deal allowed Sears to continue selling a limited line of Craftsman tools. Last year, SBD rolled out the new Craftsman with an impressive number of products from lawn care and DIY to automotive and construction.

Apparently, the heart of the matter is the definition of “a limited line” as Sears rolls out their Craftsman Ultimate Collection. Using catch phrases like, “the real home of the broadest assortment of Craftsman” makes it sound like there’s some underlying competition between the two. SBD claims it gives the impression that their tools are “somehow illegitimate.”

Honestly, I don’t blame SBD one bit for taking issue with their marketing.

This lawsuit follows just a month after Sears worked through its bankruptcy proceedings to be purchased by former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert for $5.2 billion. That might just spur the biggest case of buyer’s remorse in recent history.

Lampert was at the helm during Sears well-documented march into bankruptcy and the future of the emergent Sears isn’t looking much better.

So What?

There really wasn’t any need to declare one side or the other as “The Real Craftsman” but somehow, that sounds like what this is about. I get it that Lampert has a multi-billion dollar investment on the line, but risking the breach of such a well-publicized contract doesn’t make much sense. Was it ignorance or maliciousness?

Regardless of where the fallout takes us, keep in mind that Stanley Black & Decker made a legitimate purchase of the Craftsman brand. What they’ve done so far to get the brand in front of consumers with products that are genuinely useful is impressive. If anything, I expect this is just another wheezing cough in the slow death of Sears.

For the sake of the employees of Sears and the families that rely on their income, I hope that’s not the case.


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