Reuters has reported that Stanley Black & Decker has sued Sears, citing “breach of contract and trademark infringement” over the new Sears Craftsman Ultimate Collection tools.
If you need a refresher, the full details of Stanley Black & Decker and Sears’ arrangement over the Craftsman brand was detailed in our news story when the acquisition was announced two years ago. Basically, the acquisition agreement allows Sears to develop, market, and sell their own Craftsman tools under a licensing agreement.
I’ve looked at the Sears Craftsman Ultimate Collection, and readers have even requested reviews and more information about it. One of the sets has a special marketing image, which suggests that it was a better value for what it contained than Craftsman tool sets sold elsewhere.
In the image, Sears says:
We are so confident that if you find a Craftsman Mechanic’s Tool Set with all these features at a lower price, we will match the price and give you a $100 Gift Card!
It seemed odd to me for Sears to convey a message like this, that their sets are a better value than others’ Craftsman tool sets, with Stanley Black & Decker’s Craftsman tools sold at Lowes being the implied competition.
While continuing to research the context around the new Sears Craftsman Ultimate Collection tools, I published a post about the current Sears and Stanley Black & Decker Craftsman hand tool warranties.
The Craftsman Ultimate Collection advertisements don’t seem too problematic, they simply state that the Sears Craftsman Ultimate Collection consists of “handpicked tools by mechanics, for mechanics.”
The new Craftsman Ultimate Collection tools don’t stand out to me, except for the ratchet handles which look strangely shaped, as if a forging step was skipped. I know that’s off-topic to mention, this is likely the one and only post where we’ll ever talk about the Craftsman Ultimate Collection tools.
If you search for “craftsman tools” on Google, there is a Sears Craftsman Tools advertisement at the top, with the landing page containing some strong marketing. Here is where I can see what helped motivated Stanley Black & Decker’s legal complaint.
At the top, there’s a banner saying Tools, Lawn & Garden, Shop Craftsman Here, and Welcome to your first destination for Craftsman. Browse and discover the widest selection of Craftsman tools on the planet.
From the Reuters story,
But according to the complaint, Sears breached the license agreement by launching its new tool line and touting its stores as “the real home of the broadest assortment of Craftsman.”
Stanley said the tagline falsely implies that other Craftsman products are “somehow illegitimate.”
It also said Sears’ actions threaten to confuse shoppers and irreparably harm Stanley’s own Craftsman brand and trademarks, as well as its goodwill and customer relationships.
I didn’t see this language in Sears’ Craftsman marketing, but then I found Sears’ press release for the Craftsman Ultimate Collection tools.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Sears is the real home of the broadest assortment of Craftsman, and we’re pleased to offer our customers innovative new products from this power brand,” said Peter Boutros, president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard and chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart. “What better way to ensure our mechanic sets are professional-grade, than by working with professionals to create the set? With the Ultimate Collection, we are proud to be offering professional-grade tools we know our customers will love. And these tool sets are only available at Sears.”
(Emphasis is ours.)
Ah, I can see why Stanley Black & Decker would take offense to that.
Here’s a section that’s under Craftsman at Sears:
And Sears is your first destination for Craftsman products, with the widest selection on the planet and the original home of Craftsman. Craftsman at Sears continues to develop innovative tools and products, earning a reputation for unsurpassed quality and durability.
To me, it seems that Sears sees its Craftsman tools as competing with Stanley Black & Decker Craftsman tools.
If you recall, Sears launched several new Craftsman 20V cordless power tools around the same time that Craftsman V20 cordless power tools came to market, and the two platforms are not compatible with each other. I was convinced that the two lines could cause confusion among customers. The timing was suspect, but I tried not to jump to any judgements.
But launching the new Craftsman Ultimate Collection and saying “Sears is the real home of the broadest assortment of Craftsman”?
By itself, I’d say that maybe it was a poor choice of words. But with the Google search advertisement placements and landing pages that talk about Sears having the widest selection of Craftsman tools on the planet, and the “Craftsman Challenge,” it’s no wonder Stanley Black & Decker initiated a lawsuit.
I have never seen a licensed tool brand or marketer do what Sears is doing, but then again Sears and Stanley Black & Decker’s Craftsman sale and licensing agreement is a unique circumstance.
If you ask me, Sears is going to have a very difficult time justifying their marketing language, or arguing that it won’t likely cause customer confusion.
Sears Craftsman tools vs. Stanley Black & Decker Craftsman tools could have been healthy competition to the benefit of users. But I wonder and have to ask – why is Sears developing new Craftsman cordless power tools and mechanics tool sets now, when Stanley Black & Decker is launching and expanding their own Craftsman tool offerings? Why didn’t Sears put this kind of effort into the Craftsman brand in the years prior to selling the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker?
This is a mess.
Reuters News Story
Sears Press Release
Thank you to Aaron for the heads-up!
This is pretty much the scenario that I figured would play out seconds after I first heard about the SBD deal to purchase Craftman. The whole zombie Craftsman clause that Sears has along with the ease with which overseas manufacturing can churn out any brand you want to slap on a tool make it way to easy to profit off of SBD Craftsman marketing and reputation.
If the licensing agreement gives Sears the right to manufacture and market new and current tools, then wouldn’t you call that slogan “marketing”? Sears does have more Craftsman-branded tools than any other retailer, and frankly, they make more (under license) than Stanley even makes. I would argue that saying Sears has the “widest assortment” is simply a matter of fact. So they are confused that shoppers would be confused by the truth? The “real home of Craftsman” is a response to Lowe’s calling itself the “new home of Craftsman”.
Now, unless Stanley owns the “Ultimate Collection” name, I see no reason why Sears can use that for marketing their products. I don’t think that there is any merit to Stanley’s claim that the “Ultimate Collection” tools would some how irreparably harm (which is a legal term) Stanley.
I think the point of the “Craftsman Challenge” is to stay there is no tool set out there with these features at that price. Sears did the same thing with Kenmore appliances a few years ago, saying that there will match the price and give you a gift card if you find a fridge with these features at a better price. They know that one doesn’t exist. That’s the point.
The reason why the Sears ad is on top of the Lowe’s ad would be because Lowe’s is paying less that Sears for the ad. Oddly enough it doesn’t look like Stanley has any Craftsman ads on Google so I doubt that has anything to do with the lawsuit.
I believe they also had Craftsman Challenges with ride-on mowers, maybe snowblowers also.
Without access to the full text of the legal complaint, and the full text of the sale and licensing agreement, it’s impossible to know how valid the lawsuit and legal complaint is.
Everything depends on how their agreement is penned or can be interpreted.
I absolutely agree. But, too prove irreparable harm they would have to show that that slogan or tool set would somehow harm Stanley in perpetuity. I just don’t see how that is possible. Stanley had to know that there would be competition.
What do you think of STB “Made in USA with global components” slogan? Do you think it is deceptive, in that many of the products (ex. lawn mowers) are according to the manufacturer, Assembled in USA from mostly foreign components?
I live in SE TX so I wouldn’t be browsing for any snow blowers! Haha unless you want to keep one for the light dusting that we get every few years! They are so big too. Where do people up north keep them? may the basement, which we don’t have because they would flood?
Licensing agreements are always confusing for consumers. If you shop at Costco, you’ll see Goodyear wiper blades, a Whirlpool mini fridge, and American Standard disposer. All of those products are using the brand names under license, and you would only know that if you read the fine print. I was really surprised the Whirlpool didn’t make the mini fridge.
Who could have seen this coming? Literally everyone.
I hope this lawsuit ends Sears for good.
I agree….my idea is Eddie Lamprey,oops,Lampert is doing what he always does.He would trade you a weiner for a ham any day.
Eddie is everything wrong with the business world.
I never did understand why SBD did a deal that allowed sears to continue using the name. Maybe they figured sears would only be around for a couple more years then disappear. I don’t see how two different parties using the same brand to market different things could ever work out. I wonder if SBD will try to terminate the sears license, or if they will try to unwind the deal and give craftsman back to sears, or if they will take a huge writedown for lost goodwill over this, or if they will exit the craftsman brand (I am still surprised harbor freight didn’t buy it and rebrand as craftsman)
It was probably just something worked out between the lawyers with the market value of the Craftsman brand, and the desire of Sears to keep selling the tools, otherwise they’d be dead even quicker if they lost the ability to sell Craftsman tools, or had to rely on getting them from SBD.
I don’t think this incident is enough for SBD to try and terminate the license, and they have invested WAY too much to even consider Sears getting Craftsman back (not to mention the agreement SBD now has with Lowe’s to sell Craftsman exclusively, for who knows how long, plus Sears has no money to buy Craftsman back with anyway), but it is enough for a court to decide Sears needs to compensate SBD for damages, if SBD can prove their case.
This is more of a corporate legal squabble than anything else. The thing that makes it pretty serious is the financial situation Sears is in, where they really can’t afford even minor legal squabbles while barely staying in business.
And Harbor Fright would never buy another brand, much less Craftsman. Their business model isn’t anything like that, and nobody would have taken them seriously if anything at HF was branded as Craftsman.
Same old dirty rotten Sears play on doing business. First suing TTI and other vendors and now breach of contract. I stopped shopping there since the early 2000’s and will never go back.
What shocks me is how Lowe’s could have been duped into selling faux Craftsman tools at the expense of their own Kobalt line. In my opinion and experience, Kobalt tools were vastly superior to anything bearing the Craftsman name over the past 15 years.
The stuff at lowes should just be called Chinaman tools then make a hard line and call it Craftsman USA and you pay accordingly.
Just to point out, the “new” Craftsman tools that Sears is selling, the ones in the “Ultimate Collection” and pretty much all the chrome stuff made in 2018-2019 seems to be rebranded Crescent stuff. The ratchet handles might be slightly different, but the rest of it that I’ve seen in person and compared side-by-side with identical Crescent stuff is a match. Some Ace hardware stores have been getting in actual Crescent tools in place of Craftsman branded tools, directly from Apex.
As for the legal stuff, dumb move by Sears’ marketing department.
Sears didn’t have this problem before with the ‘Craftsman Challenge’ stuff since the only other stores that sold Craftsman couldn’t compete on price anyway since they were smaller, and often didn’t even carry the actual item Sears was touting.
Seems REALLY dumb to market stuff against the company that overpaid for the brand you sold them and who are still going to be paying you millions for years to come.
Eddie had better hope Sears gets out of this one without a big fine or some other big loss, since the publicity hit will be bad enough, but a financial hit might disrupt his plan for keeping Sears on life support for awhile longer.
I recently ordered a few Craftsman tools from Sears online during a recent clearance sale. I had vowed before not to do that again, but the prices were so good I caved in to the temptation when my order arrived, I hadn’t gotten the right tools, well 3 were right 2 were wrong out of an order of 5 items. I started the process of returning them and after a while realized it just wasn’t worth it. The website is a nightmare, ordering a pain, and while the last on the phone was very nice, and seemed to be trying, just couldn’t get things going in a timely manner. She said the computer system was giving her fits. I sympathized with her as I know what kind of software Sears has, at least on my end. Long story short, I got good prices on 3 tools I needed and 2 i really didnt, and am still short 2 tools I wanted. I gave up, consider this a lesson learned, and will not go near the Sears website again. I think their website did as much of more to ruin Sears as anything. This lawsuit seems like just another nail in their coffin.
Who goes into a Sears and why? Hate to see people lose jobs but Sears should just go under and be done with it. It’s a part of old suburbia that now looks more third world.
Well, it certainly keeps all the various Craftsmen in the news… And honestly, would any of us think about them otherwise?
I’m surprised it took this long for a suit to happen.
meanwhile on that ratchet – I swear I’ve seen one similar to that but I can’t place a name to it. the handle had a flattened section for your grip and it was turned 90 degrees to the head so as to give you a flatter place for the palm of your hand when you’re turning it.
Sort of like those twisted gearwrench ratcheting wrenches.
Might have been a gearwrench ratchet for all I can remember.
The Craftsman 84T premium ratchets? https://toolguyd.com/craftsman-premium-ratchet-review/
But those still had more shape to them.
Do you think Sears was banking on the marketing surge that would come from SBD launch “new” Craftsman and are now releasing a slew of offerings to ride that wave? Seems like they’re hoping for some consumer confusion to bring people in…
Whiskey and Wood
None of this would have happened if SBD hadn’t agreed to the most ridiculous licensing agreement ever made!
100% with you on that. I don’t know the explicit terms of the agreement, but as noted in the article, I do know that Sears Craftsman launched a line of red and black 20V MAX tools at the same time that SBD launched a line of red and black V20 MAX tools. Apparently, SBD did not view this as violating their agreement, or they would have sued months ago.
It’s inferrable that SBD entered into a licensing agreement where they agreed to continue to allow Sears (and its suppliers) to develop and market Craftsman-branded tools, seemingly without any clear restrictions. It appears they made very little effort to limit what Sears was able to release to differentiate them from their own tools. If I were in their position, I would have insisted that they could not release any tool line involving marketing language with the number 20, 20V, V20, or the word MAX, etc. in the name. Let them stick to 19.3 C3 or switch to 18V-based marketing. I’d also have required that Sears tools could not contain more than 30% of the classic Craftsman red color. If these issues came up in negotiations and Sears was unwilling to move forward without them, I would have walked, as it would be clear to me that Sears wanted to play dirty/have their cake and eat it too.
The other thing that I thought of (honestly as I was completing this post) is that maybe SBD planned this, or something like it, from the beginning. I would imagine that SBD really wanted the exclusive rights to Craftsman to begin with, but Sears was unwilling to play ball as it’s effectively their only remaining valuable asset. So SBD and Sears enter into a licensing agreement with a bunch of non-specific, legally conclusory language, like Sears and SBD agree not to intentionally disparage the Craftsman brand name, and some other kind of vague, limited non-compete stuff, that when contract lawyers read it sounds harmless, but when commercial litgators read it looks like a big, vague, juicy steak. This kind of vague contract language is tailor-made to survive any kind of initial Demurrer or a Motion to Dismiss a Complaint that would allow Sears to get rid of the suit in a time- and cost-effective way, and after the initial Motions are denied, SBD can bury Sears in discovery, rack up their legal expenses, and probably dredge up some dirty laundry e-mails between Sears’ executives and marketing teams, which even if entirely permitted under the contract, might look bad to the public. Even if they get nothing, Sears cannot afford this broad assault in their current condition, and it would seemingly be more than enough to get Sears to agree to sell off whatever rights they continue to hold in Craftsman just to be done with the lawsuit.
Will be interesting to see how this plays out, but, without having parsed the contract (which is really what this will come down to), I see nothing here from which I can infer that Sears has done anything wrong. Frankly if I were a Sears exec that just took a major hit on the value I accepted for the Craftsman brand in exchange for being able to continue to market it, I’d be furious with the tagline Lowe’s released proclaiming themselves “The new home of Craftsman.” Just as SBD claims Sears marketing appears to suggest the SBD product is inferior, I’d say the Lowe’s marketing suggests that Sears no longer sells Craftsman. The first time I saw the tagline at Lowe’s, I assumed that Sears had sold it entirely. Frankly, if I didn’t read Toolguyd, I’d probably still think that, because I haven’t been to a Sears in 5+ years. But if I were Sears, and I saw that marketing line, I’d do exactly what Sears did and call myself the “first home of Craftsman” or the real home of Craftsman or whatever. Not only does it resonate, but it’s true.
My post might come off as anti-SBD and pro-Sears. That’s not my intention. It is clear to me that the SBD Craftsman tools are WORLDS better than the crap that Sears has been marketing for the past 10-15 years. My anti-SBD take is really more about them filing a breach of contract suit so soon after the licensing agreement was made, which appears to be a clear result of them making a bad agreement. To me, all of their issues appear to be with the marketing language used, which they are trying to tie back to a vague irreparable harm term in the contract.
If they didn’t want to be targeted by Sears in advertising, there should have been an express contract provision prohibiting Sears from mentioning or targeting any SBD Craftsman-branded product or line of products in their advertising. By tying this all back to irreparable harm, it is clear that there is no such provision and they are scrambling.
In short, I’m pro SBD Craftsman tools, anti-Sears Craftsman tools.
But I am pro Sears legal, anti SBD legal.
The craftsman name and their real estate holdings are really the only things of value that Sears has left. My guess is that a licensing agreement was a necessity for them so they could have some cash coming in for a few more years so Eddie can milk what’s left of the name.
Those of us who were Sears diehards for lack of a better term were there because of USA Craftsman. Without that, I don’t see the point of Sears. There’s literally nothing there I can’t get somewhere else… Kenmore appliances are no longer Whirlpool built but in the same league of crap now as anything else. DieHard likewise changed suppliers and their batteries are no longer better than anything I could get at WalMart.
Eddie ruined Craftsman and that’s a fact. So in my book he ruined Sears. Stanley bought Craftsman and has done more for the brand than Lampert ever did. They’ve literally had to try and reverse over a decade’s worth of decay. I was loyal to Sears since I started shopping for tools as a kid. That loyalty is with SBD now provided they continue to turn the ship around. It’s laughable that not only did Sears ruin it’s iconic brand, but then they Sold it and somehow expect their old customers to come running back. Not gonna happen.
“The real home of Craftsman”, not after you ran it into the ground and sold it.
It’s like the Marx Brothers wrote up that agreement.
Who did not see that coming, when there’s essentially two crafsman brands now??
Right now based on a little bit of marketing materials, I don’t think there’s a case, but that’s just my 2c.
The Sears marketing smells of desperation. It’s almost like they are waving their arms and screaming “Don’t forget about us, we still have Craftsman too!” I imagine tool shoppers are flocking to Lowes and Ace in sufficient numbers that it’s gotten Sears attention. With so many closed stores and all the horror stories about their poor on-line experience, I don’t think shopping at Sears is worth the risk.
Shut up and die already Sears!
To passive aggressive?
Sears is the real home of craftsman tools. They started the brand, established the brand, and earned the brand its reputation both good and bad. Lowes or Sbd didn’t do any of that. Sears also established craftsman professional and craftsman industrial tools. Sbd didn’t do any of that either. Sears put the craftsman name on the map. Sbd didn’t do that either. In fact sbd didn’t put any of their brands on the map. They were established before they owned them all. The downfall of Sears and craftsman began before Eddie was at the helm, but he made sure that it would happen. Until Sears is completely out of the way and out of business, anyone who remembers what craftsman was in the brand’s better years will associate Sears as the home of craftsman tools. They are synonymous. Did sbd really expect Sears not to be competitive when they agreed to let Sears continue to manufacture craftsman tools? They are 2 completely different craftsman brands and sbd wants to distance themselves as far away as they can from what Sears did. I personally think that this is something that sbd is using as an excuse to worm out of having to pay Sears for the next 15 years from the retail sales of sbd craftsman tools which is what they agreed upon when they signed the contract. Sbd is wanting to have the exclusive rights to craftsman and they don’t. So they’re crying about it because they don’t. Boohoo. They could have walked away from Eddie’s demands and what he expected if you bought his brand from him. I’m sure sbd weren’t the only ones that were interested in Sears, but they were the only ones dumb enough to pay what he was asking and comply to his demands. It’s their own damn fault. They were obviously desperate to own craftsman if they agreed to what Eddie demanded. Sears is still hanging on by the skin of their teeth even after the craftsman deal. It ain’t like Sears is going to make a comeback and dominate the retail market again. So what can sbd do to get out of the contractual obligations to Sears? Sue for breach of contract in hopes that Sears will just die off which is already happening. I think that this is about sbd failing to establish their brand like they thought they would and they think that as long as Sears is still around, they will not be taken seriously as the home of craftsman tools, but the fact that sbd has yet to deliver on its pledge to bring craftsman back to the US is inexcusable. I understand it takes time, but it’s been 2 years and sbd hasn’t taken any strides to establish craftsman the same way Sears established craftsman. Its the same song and dance with all of sbd brands. Assembled in the USA from imported parts. Or as they call it “made in the USA with global materials”. That’s not made in the USA. Sbd hasn’t done anything to improve the reputation of craftsman. Just like they didn’t do anything to improve the reputation of porter cable. Or black and decker or Stanley tools, Irwin, Lenox, or any of their brands besides Dewalt. Their greed has made them so naive to think that if they sue Sears out of existence that they can make craftsman a reputable brand. That’s what George Buckley and James Loree have failed to understand. They’re not getting the big picture. They just don’t get it. The reputation of craftsman has nothing to do with marketing or who owns them. It’s about establishing the greatness that once was established by several proud Americans busting their ass to put a brand that they could call their own on the map and being proud of it and the dedication to keep it that way. So far sbd has failed miserably and will continue to do so.
sort of like Sears having tools contract manufactured all over the world and slapping their name on them and selling them for a profit?
Sears failed to respond to the market. They stayed far too long in the failing big shopping mall anchor store role. Of the four malls in my area, two are dead or dying (literally, demolishing half the stores and turning it into a collection of stand alone buildings at one…) and the other two have big empty anchor store locations that will never be re occupied.
In an amazon/ebay world their website sucked. Allowing non Sears brick and mortar locations to sell the cheap chicom craftsman crap just accelerated the demise of their reputation which was all they ever really had.
Yeah, I’m just staying away from both Craftsmans. What a mess indeed.
What, are most of you paid by SBD, or do you have a short memory? I don’t know much about carpentry tools as I do not use them often, but…
Stanley mechanic tools have declined in quality as far as or farther than Craftsman mechanic tools. About 20 years ago, I bought a Stanley wratchet set from Menards. It was good quality and of similar quality to the Craftsman wratchet tools of the late 90’s. I think the Stanley were guaranteed for life, but the Craftsman definitely were guaranteed for life. The sole reason I bought Stanley was the lower price, but for almost or as-good-as quality as Craftsman at the time.
Over the next 20 years, both the Stanley and the Craftsman fell in quality considerably. The Stanley price stayed relatively unchanged and the Craftsman price stayed unchanged, yet the Craftsman held up its reputation as “guaranteed for life”. As some points in the 2000’s I tried to get broken sockets from the Stanley set replaced- I had considerable trouble. I had 1-2 replaced at a Menards. Recently it became almost impossible to get broken Stanley sockets replaced (people, don’t buy Stanley sockets for professional use).
Now as my tools have become a Frankenstein mixture of all brands, I use both Craftsman and Stanley among others. Today’s Stanley mechanic’s tools are equal to or a bit better than Tool Pro junk you’d find at the lowest end in Menards, or in the clearance bin at Ace. At the same time Craftsman mechanic’s tools are still usable for weekend usage- nothing critical, but imo are better quality than today’s newer Stanley tools.
I’ve recently used a few Stanley products like measuring tools and such and I don’t remember being impressed with them. On the other hand, I have not used a Craftsman tool that made me think, “this is junk.” All Craftsman tools have a minimum quality. Now listen: any one of you who are pro mechanics- you’re trying to get Porsche performance (like Matco or Snap-On) out of say a Dodge Avenger (Craftsman). And Stanley would be like a Kia or a Hyndai.
Let’s put this into perspective: Stanley Black and Decker is a weird Frankenstein company and I suspect this lawsuit was set up more than 2 years ago by them. Just look at them! They have what-4 different popular tool brands? Black and Decker, Dewalt, Stanley and Craftsman. To SBD executives, they probably don’t CARE if Craftsman goes under: They have Stanley to take it’s place. Some of you may ask, “Then why would they BUY Craftsman- a company that is going out of business because of falling quality?”
Possible answer: The $900 million they used to buy Craftsman could be recouped if they could destroy Sears by ending the Craftsman line- they could just increase their Stanley models & marketing to increase sales of Stanley to take the place of Craftsman and eventually make up for the 900 million loss and then some. Think about it- if Craftsman folds, you’ll buy a Stanley set.
Did Chrysler go out of business when Plymouth folded? No. Did GM go out of business when Oldsmobile folded? No. There were many other brands.
Let’s go further to see SBD’s possible motives: Let’s face it people, Black and Decker sucks. The only people who buy Black and Decker are those that don’t know much about their tools. Remember- the same people that make this junk are now making Craftsman- it can only go down in quality.
You may respond, “But they make Dewalt, a quality and respected brand!” Yes, but Stanley and Craftsman are of similar quality and have a similar types of models of tools- one of them has to go…just like Dodge survived Plymouth and Buick survived Oldsmobile. Read that sentence twice and remember it.
Sears are the good ones- trying to save America’s ONLY middle-of-the-road hand tool brand. Support Sears. In fact, I hope Sears gets back on its feet and buys back the Craftsman brand 100%. GO SEARS! Screw Amazon, the information hoarding behemoth. Amazon is the modern-day equivalent of the small-town crushing Walmart of the 70’s through the 2000’s.
I suspect Amason is a player behind this.
I’m sort of wishing for a power outage for a week to force people into the brick and mortar stores…because you know what? Craftsman would survive Stanley in that scenario. Amasonn’s good? Okay say that a little louder into your Aleksah spy speaker. Or type that into your mobile tracking box, dolphin with tag on dorsal fin [chew on my last few sentences for a few days- you’ll get it].
“Sears are the good ones- trying to save America’s ONLY middle-of-the-road hand tool brand.”
They destroyed the Craftsman brand, eliminating the USA-made pro tools, and then replacing the regular line with imported alternatives. There were some new tools in the past 5 years, but so many fewer compared to before. Sears stopped caring about the Craftsman brand, plain and simple.
Let’s not forget that Sears sued some of their tool suppliers. If roles were reversed, they probably would have taken the same legal action as Stanley Bkack & Decker.
I in no way condone what Sears did to Craftsman over the past 10+ years. I also do not view them as any kind of white knight. I also think the new SBD Craftsman stuff is decent.
But this lawsuit seems empty. And it seems like a cheap way to get Sears to release the remainder of their interest in the Craftsman brand. And frankly it seems morally wrong.
If Sears had pulled some kind of side-by-side comparison with fake stats like some brands do (coughHarborFreightcough), I’d totally get what SBD seems to be doing here.
But they’re not doing that. To me, nothing about these advertisements is egregious. Desperate, sure, but they’re not claiming that the SBD stuff is artificial in some way at all.
I just feel that SBD should have known what it was getting into when it signed the licensing deal that it did. They effectively signed up for a deferred 100% right to own and market the Craftsman brand exclusively. They now seem upset that someone else has the gall to market the brand. It was bound for complications, many of which I think could be far worse than this. Like I said before, this seems like an abuse of the legal process. If I owned a company in the same industry as SBD, I would be extremely hesitant to deal with them after pulling this stunt.
I agree with Stuart. And I don’t understand the agreement to let Sears keep using the name. Putting that aside, I the customer view it in simple terms.
A guy starts a company (sears starts craftsman) and builds a large loyal customer base. Then after a period of time the guy starts cutting corners in his work and really let’s the business go downhill which ruins his reputation and causes his customers to leave. So the guy decides to just sell the business. The new guy buys the business and goes to work as fast as possible to try and restore it. Bring back those customers who have gone elsewhere, earn back that good reputation it once had. He works hard at it and starts to see the fruit of his labor paying off. Now the old owner see’s this and decides he wants back in the game and wants those customers back too. The new ones the new owner worked so hard to get. And he has a bit of a legal hold on his old business name too so he’s going to do this.
It’s just not right. That’s my view. You ran your once booming business into the ground and decided to sell it. The new owner has worked hard to restore it. As a once loyal customer of yours, I don’t look at what you’re doing as (for lack of a better term) moral. I wish you had kept your business up to the standards you once had when I first used you because if you did, I’d still be your loyal customer. But you didn’t. So I’ve chosen to go with the new guy who bought the company and has tried to turn it around. And should the new guy decide to not care about the company someday too, I’ll just move on.
“And he has a bit of a legal hold on his old business name too so he’s going to do this.”
You included this is almost an afterthought. But this is the whole freaking thing. Sears expressly bargained to retain the right to market tools under the Craftsman name. They almost certainly accepted less money than they would have if they sold the exclusive rights to use the name Craftsman without restriction and agreed to stop selling their own tools under the brand.
I think it’s also very possible that SBD knew they had Sears between a rock and a hard place and figured that Sears would shrivel up within a few years anyway, so it made sense to get the brand at a steep discount now while allowing Sears to continue to sell non-competitive, inferior Craftsman tools for a few years before SBD gets exclusive rights by default.
I think you should consider changing your perspective a bit. Put yourself in Sears’ shoes. You have a terrible portfolio. Everyone knows it. Everyone knows that you’re dying on the vine, your stockholders are pissed, and Craftsman is all you have left. Everyone knows your bargaining power is minimal. A tool company approaches you and says, “Hey, we’ll give you half of what this brand name is worth. “You of course respond that you want full value. They say, “Nah, we’ll give you half. But we want to you to agree you’re not going to license the name to anyone else. This is it. Hey, you know what, as a midway point, we’ll let you agree to keep using the name, too, but we’re not paying a dime over 50% value.” You’re probably still not thrilled, but you wait for other offers and nothing better comes through. You begrudgingly accept the offer.
A year later, you advertise your tools substantially for the first time since this agreement, and basically all you say is “we had Craftsman first” and “Our Craftsman stuff is cheaper,” both of which are objectively true (a rare feat in advertising). And the next day you get served with a legal Complaint from the jerks that already took you to the woodshed with the terms of the deal.
SBD’s apparent idea that Sears should be barred from saying “we have Craftsman too” is absolutely absurd. Moreover, Sears ads basically say “We have Craftsman too, and our Craftsman stuff is cheaper.” Which is true. And also does not damage the mid-tier brand that SBD appears to be trying to create.
I can’t change my perspective because I can’t change the facts. SBD didn’t approach Sears and say ‘we’ll give you half of what the company is worth’. If Sears/Eddie truly thought Craftsman was worth nearly 2 billion dollars after all the damage done instead of 900 million, they should have kept it and turned it around themselves. If there was a higher offer from let’s say TTI, Stanley wouldn’t own Craftsman right now. TTI would.. The fact is Sears put Craftsman out there for sale along with DieHard and Kenmore both. All 3 were up for grabs, the other 2 had no takers. There’s no other way to spin this. And I loved Sears, I truly did. I shopped at our local store until the last day when the lights went out. I even said I’d buy SBD’s new Craftsman line at a Sears store if we still had one just to support both. I just can’t behind this though. It’s as if Sears is trying to call take-back’s now after going through bk restructuring.
Sears is sinking, abandon ship!!!
I did some checking to see if SBD Craftsman was inferior or superior to Sears’ Craftsman hand tools, both in quality and price. I found that much of what SBD makes is lower quality and more expensive than what is made for Sears.
Ex 1) Pliers:
SBD Craftsman pliers are the equivalent to Sears’ Craftsman Evolv brand, which is a value brand. SBD prices for their pliers are much more expensive than the Sears’ price for the set of five, usually on sale for $14.99, or a set of 2 for 11.99 reg price vs. $7.99 each at Lowes. It seems the SBD does not have any sets of pliers. The normal (not Evlov) Sears Craftsman pliers have a flush rivet design vs. SBD which has the normal rivet. All made in China.
Ex 2) Hammer:
SBD makes a Chinese made 1lb hammer which again is the equivalent to Sears’ Evolv brand. Lowes price is a $1 cheaper than Sears for this item.
Ex 3) Tool Sets & Wrench Sets
SBD tool sets and wrench sets are almost all made in China and so are Sears. However, Sears had the better price for each set that I could check in a head to head comparison. One Example: At Sears 11 full polished wrenches for $19.99 vs Lowes/SBD: 11 raised-panel wrenches for $34.98
Ex 4) Snips:
SBD $14.98 each Chinese made / Set of 3: 29.98 (China)
Sears $19.99 each, USA made / Evolv set of 3: 21.99 (China)
Foot note: Many of the tool sets at Lowes had labels that were peeling off even though they were brand new. Yes, it would be a lot better if Sears kept manufacturing in the USA, however today’s consumer seems to care more about price. Apex was the manufacturer of the tool sets (sockets, wrenches, ratchets) closed to separate plants which used to make them, and that is why production subsequently went to China. The reason why pliers and screwdrivers are made in China was because Western Forge ended the agreement with Sears. What does Western Forge make today sold at other outlets? It seems like nothing at all.
We all forget that Sears just emerged from Bankruptcy w/ some unique financial shenanigans by EL, I bet SBD when they purchased Craftman they thought Sears doors would be closing by 2020…….this lawsuit could be away to accelerate the 2nd demise of Sears.
We all can agree the quality of the “new” Craftsman is not up to par of the 70’s/80’s/90’s made in the USA handtools and the new cordless line is re-badged Porter Cable/B&D cordless (spring 2019 alligator looper (I am looking @ you)).
We all hope the manufacturing on the hand tools comes back to US and the fit & finish improves dramatically…..for us toolsnobs the current Craftsman has a lot room for improvement, but for the average consumer it is good enough and we should thank SBD for taking over the brand, re-vive the brand nd hopefully improve the products over time.
The fall 2019 release was impressive, let’s hope the SBD Craftman focus is not taken away from DW. DW needs keep innovating and compete in the cordless space (MKE has been taking cordless share for 10 years in the US).
We vote everyday w/ our wallets, we have to support companies that strive to make high quality products in the US or elsewhere w/ good labor standard even if it cost a bit more…..to quote Patagonia – reduce, reuse, recycle and (most importantly) repair, buy quality, fix it, fix it and replace when finally worn out.
Here is my take on the legality of this sense Eddie lampert bought Sears out of bankruptcy court it changes the deal between Sears and SBD and that is what Eddie is banking on. From what I have read Sears got relieved of a lot of debt when that happened. That is why most venders did not want the judge to let him do that. But I’m not a lawyer just worked for the A**hole. Remember he was kidnapped and even they didn’t want him.
That Ratchet appears to be based upon the USA Made Premium Ratchets that Sears’ sold up to about 2015 or so. Those were Danaher/Matco quality ratchets and today are going for about 200.00 a ratchet on eBay. Collector’s Pricing.
Its called competition. Sears and SBD are courting the same group of shoppers. I still stop by Sears and check for any “new old” stock trucked in from one of the many closed Sears. Scored a nice magnetic level and pry bar set. One note of interest to fans of domestic production. Starting in 2016 Sears has outsourced the last of their made in USA tools. Western Forge, Wilde and its appears Vaughn are gone along with pliers, drivers, prybars and hammers as Sears seems driven to become the home of Harbor Freight quality Craftsman tools.
SBD has to respond to this. Sears did almost nothing to the Craftsman power hand tools for years after the C3 & Bolt On series of tools. Then almost exactly at the same time SBD launches its 20v red/black series of power hand tools, Sears does it as well and looks so similar that you can easily mistake one for the other at a quick glance. Now Sears implies that non Sears Craftsman tools are inferior and illegitimate. Eddie L. Has ruined two former great companies in KMart and Sears. Tactics like this can only hurt both Sears Craftsman and SBD. SBD needs to take Craftsman away from Sears. If Lambert really cared about the Craftsman line, he had years to show it. Instead he only made things worse. I hate this for all the families livelihoods destroyed by mismanagement.