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'Urgent enquiries': Target says it's trying to find out if its products were forgeries. Photo: Domino Postiglione

RETAILER Target has said it ''just doesn't know'' if M·A·C cosmetics sold at its stores are counterfeit or not.

Global make-up company Estee Lauder has launched legal action against Target, claiming the retailer sold fake cosmetics at its stores and online from at least August 8.

In the Federal Court yesterday, David Studdy, SC, for Target, said Estee Lauder's claims that the products were fake were just allegations at this point. ''We just don't know and we're obviously making urgent inquiries,'' he said.

Target took the products off its shelves on August 28 and had been making attempts to get information from the supplier since August 30, Mr Studdy said. ''They may be parallel imports or it may be slightly older stock.''

But Richard Lancaster, SC, for Estee Lauder, said Mr Studdy was ''just guessing''.

He said 34 out of 34 products bought from Target stores had been shown to be counterfeit in testing. He said it was important that customers who bought M·A·C from Target were made aware that the products were fake.

Estee Lauder is also concerned that orders cancelled by Target may end up being sold elsewhere in Australia.

Estee Lauder, which bought the New York-based M·A·C in 1998, said the make-up was advertised at prices 40 per cent below those of authorised retailers David Jones, Myer and its own stores.

The hearing continues.