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Court Asked to Overturn Reagan Ruling

January 28, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal appeals court was asked Monday to overturn a presidential decision allowing the import of a brand of alkaline batteries in competition with the U.S. manufacturer that first developed them.

The appeal is on behalf of Duracell Inc., which maintains that its own subsidiary in Belgium is selling the batteries in undisclosed countries which are then re-exporting them to the United States.

″They’re not coming direct from the Belgian subsidiary,″ said James N. Bierman of Foley and Lardner, a Washington law firm representing Duracell. ″They go to a third and a fourth country and we can’t find out what countries they are.″

In a telephone interview, he estimated that $20 million to $30 million worth of the Belgian-made batteries have entered the United States in the past year. Because of the high value of the dollar, it is profitable to ship them and sell them here even though seven plants make them in this country.

″... Duracell U.S. batteries, made here by U.S. workers for sale to Americans, are being displaced by foreign batteries made in Europe for sale outside the United States,″ said C. Robert Kidder, president of Duracell Inc. in a statement that accompanied the announcement of the appeal.

Darr & Kraft Inc. of Chicago, which owns both the American company and the Belgian subsidiary, maintains that the imports infringe on its rights because it owns the trade mark in the United States. The U.S. International Trade Commission agreed.

But on Jan. 4 President Reagan wrote the commission, overruling the decision.

Bierman said the president’s disapproval was unjustified because he disapproved on legal grounds rather than on grounds of policy. The lawyer maintains that under the law, the president only has the right to disapprove for reasons of policy, and that the time limit for him to do that expired on Jan. 5.

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