The internet has made it possible for almost anyone to export goods worldwide – but that unfortunately includes counterfeit merchandise. In one case, a man who sold £250,000 worth of fake t-shirts from his garage, in wholesale breach of copyright, had his two-year jail term upheld by the Court of Appeal.
The man sold garments online which bore protected marks – including ‘The Beatles’, ‘The Ramones’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Porsche’. His wares were bought by customers as far afield as Australia, Russia and America. The loss to trade mark holders as a result of his activities was said to exceed £500,000.
He was jailed and hit with a £130,000 confiscation order after he admitted fraudulent trading and six trade mark offences. In arguing that his sentence was too long, his lawyers pointed to his lack of previous convictions, his young family and his good progress in custody. However, the Court rejected arguments that his sentence was wrong in principle, or manifestly excessive, and dismissed his appeal.
This presents a good reason for coming to Woodfines for advice before taking any chances where intellectual property is concerned. If it belongs to you, it should be protected before it goes public. If it might not belong to you, you’d better be even more vigilant, as the owner might come knocking at your door - and expect a wad of cash for his trouble!