Counterfeit brand articles confiscated at marketplace

PHILIPSBURG--Curaçao-based Liance Law Firm seized a large number of counterfeit articles of the brands Louis Vuitton and Gucci at the marketplace behind the Courthouse on Saturday.
This happened in cooperation with bailiff’s office Ramazan in Curaçao and with permission from the Court of First Instance in St. Maarten.
Liance Law took legal steps against nine market vendors in May on behalf of Disosa Brand Protection Services Ltd, which is also based in Curaçao. The company acts globally on behalf of a large number of trademark owners against trademark violators. In this case it acted on behalf of trademark holders Chanel SA and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE in France, Puma AG in Germany and Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH, among others.
Under these trademark holders fall a large number of top brands, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Puma, Rolex, Hublot, Tag Heuer, Breitling and Victorinox.
The fake articles, among them handbags and wallets of the brand Louis Vuitton, were on sale at the marketplace behind the Courthouse on Back Street. The products, which were imported in St. Maarten this year or earlier, were sold by persons with vendors’ licences for “tourist articles” from the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication (TEATT).
It concerns nine persons – seven born in Haiti and two in Curaçao – who obtained the products from Padma BV on Back Street, which operates under the trade name Popular Brands.
During a discussion with two St. Maarten bailiffs they informed attorney-at-law Wiek Herben of Liance Law that they would not cooperate with possible confiscations at the marketplace, based on “social empathic” considerations. Therefore, and with the Court’s permission, a Curaçao-based bailiff was flown in to assist with the confiscations.
In the application for precautionary attachment (“conservatoir beslag”) submitted to the Court on May 22, Disosa stated it had made several test purchases and had been able to determine after investigations that the articles were counterfeit.
The company stated it was unable to establish which market stall belonged to which vendor, but said that all stalls had the same counterfeit articles on display.
Disosa said it had, for instance, purchased two identical wallets with the “LV” logo at two different locations in the marketplace and from two different salespersons. In both cases the products had been purchased by bankcard at Popular Brands.
“It concerns a product that was found with all permit holders. In fact, we’re seeing here one big marketplace at one and the same address from which similar counterfeit articles are being presented and sold,” Herben stated in his petition to the Court.
He claimed this has led to lower sales at official distributors, as a result of which they were able to export fewer products to St. Maarten and, therefore, missed out on sales.
He also mentioned damage to the brand holders’ “carefully built” reputations due to the fact that the counterfeit merchandise carries the same design, logos, words and images as the official brands, albeit of lower quality, which leads to negative experiences and confusion among customers.
The lawyer estimated the total damage suffered at “at least” US $20,000.
The request for precautionary attachment was filed because salespersons often fail to hand over counterfeit products voluntarily, but rather make these disappear. This had led to embezzlement of products in St. Maarten instead of cooperation to withdraw these counterfeit articles from the market, Herben said. He also feared that without attachment the salespersons would not pay.
The Court gave permission to confiscate the counterfeit goods at Popular Brands and at the market stalls. In addition, the Judge agreed to a conservatory third-party attachment of the vendors’ accounts at Windward Islands Bank, Orco Bank, Banco di Caribe and RBC Royal Bank.
The Daily Herald

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