Internet Trader Found Guilty Of IP Infringement

A UK internet trader who sold several counterfeit designer goods on social media websites such as Facebook has been sentenced and fined in court.

Mr Alexander Burton Bolton, Teesside, was subjected to an investigation led by Stockton Council’s trading standards and licensing team after one of his customers reported a counterfeit pair of GHD hair straighteners.

A subsequent investigation of Mr Bolton’s home revealed a small quantity of counterfeit sports goods – including fake England football kits and counterfeit Lacoste and Ralph Lauren t-shirts and polo shirts.

Investigators also found an order book referencing a number of sales across Teesside and the Tees Valley.

Further investigation later revealed that the 33-year-old had ignored a previous written warning issued to him in July 2015 – and continued to advertise fake goods on social media site Facebook.

The unlawful internet trader found himself facing legal action at Teesside Magistrates Court, where he insisted that he had not sold any counterfeit goods, but did not deny that the products found at his home were counterfeit.

Mr Bolton was found guilty of five offences under section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994.

He was handed a 12 month Community Order with 60 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of almost £1,500 and a £60 victim surcharge.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said: “Making or selling fake goods is against the law so if an item carries a well-known brand, it should be the genuine article.”

“Consumers should [also] think carefully before they purchase designer goods online and if the prices seem too good to be true they probably are.”

Exploiting, copying or otherwise using another’s intellectual property without proper authorisation will amount to infringement. It is important to remember that intellectual property infringement is not a victimless crime – it can, and has the ability to, threaten legitimate businesses, employees and significantly undermine consumer confidence.

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Maung is a partner in our Corporate and Commercial department. He joined Mackrell Turner Garrett following corporate law positions in London and in a leading regional firm in Essex.