October 26, 2012 5:05 PM
PHILIPSBURG--Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson is not happy with the recent ruling of the High Court in The Hague against Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks business, in its fight against six Front Street retailers it had accused of illegally selling decoded products.
Richardson said the ruling of the court basically sent a message that St. Maarten is a free-for-all, an image he is not about to let fester. Richardson said he and independent MPs Patrick Illidge and Romain Laville would seek a meeting with the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry as an initial step to drafting legislation that would finally tackle the sale of illegal goods on the island.
Richardson stressed that in the past St. Maarten had been faced with an embarrassing situation involving jewellery of lesser quality than advertised. “Now alcohol is becoming an issue and the court ruling is very dangerous for St. Maarten. It sent the message to these major companies that we allow fake goods to be sold on our island,” Richardson said.
“My legal team will look at legislation that was presented in Curaçao to protect goods on that island when I was an MP of the Netherlands Antilles. We will look at it and move on drafting a law that will protect patented goods as well as the overall image of St. Maarten. I have talked about this in the past; now it’s time to act. International companies invest and allow their products to be sold here, because they expect their brand will be protected. Now they might think twice. There could be serious consequences,” Richardson said.
Diageo, a global company trading in more than 180 markets around the world, is manufacturer and distributor of a broad collection of alcoholic beverage brands, including Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, Baileys, J&B, José Cuervo, Tanqueray and Guinness. The company has manufacturing facilities in the Caribbean and around the globe.
According to Diageo, production batch or lot codes are placed on products to make it possible for the manufacturer to quickly and easily recall a product which is defective or non-compliant with manufacturing standards.
Decoded products cannot be identified by the manufacturer and therefore pose a threat to the consumer, the company claimed. Products sold by the authorised distributor are never decoded, as this would be an infringement of his agreement with the brand owner.
(The Daily Herald)