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• Fendi, an Italian fashion group, has sued Wal-Mart, accusing the company of selling counterfeit handbags, wallets and keychains in its Sam’s Club stores and trying to pass them off as actual Fendi merchandise. The company says that Wal-Mart has never purchased any products from Fendi and never asked if the items in question were real.

Wal-Mart has not commented on the suit, which asks that Fendi be paid unspecified damages and that all remaining, unsold products be destroyed.

• The Washington Post reports that Wal-Mart is considering sourcing what is called “fair trade” coffee beans from Brazil, a move that would be a “radical undertaking” for the retailer.

Because the hallmark of so-called “fair trade” products is that the producers – generally in third word nations - receive a fair wage, such a move by Wal-Mart “would be a novel arrangement for a company infamous for squeezing pennies out of its suppliers -- and a test of how deep its makeover will really go.” The Post writes that “supporting fair trade presents a paradox for Wal-Mart. It is a tacit admission that there is a point at which no more efficiencies can be squeezed out of the system without harming the people who make it work.”

The plan being considered would, in fact, be part of CEO Lee Scott’s effort to give the company a public relations makeover, stressing that it can do well by doing good.” But because Wal-Mart attracts considerable attention and criticism, there already are concerns not just about how sincere the company’s commitment to fair trade is, but what its business could mean – positively and negatively – to the farmers with whom it does business. Part of the concern is that if Wal-Mart were to pull its business from one of these farmers after a period of time during which it bought considerable product from the coffee producer, the impact could be devastating.

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