SINGAPORE: Levi's Beats Carrefour In Fake Jeans Row
A judge ordered hypermart chain Carrefour to pay legal costs of $15,000 after it admitted breaching a court order and selling jeans which infringed a Levi Strauss and Co's trademark for the second time.
But judicial commissioner Choo Han Teck stopped short of fining the company after Levi Strauss, which makes and sells clothes and accessories under the Levi's brand name, sued for contempt of court.
Its lawyer, Dr Stanley Lai, asked that a "substantial" fine be imposed on Carrefour for disobeying the order, citing Section 49 of the Trademarks Act which states that anyone who counterfeits a trademark can be fined up to $100,000 or jailed five years.
Carrefour's lawyer, Mr Lionel Tan, did not dispute that the order was breached but argued that a low fine was more than appropriate and that a stern warning be given.
The judge ordered Carrefour to pay Levi Strauss' legal costs of $15,000 but said a substantial fine was not appropriate and he did not want to impose a "token" one.
He also warned the hypermart of serious consequences if it repeated the offence.
Carrefour, which has a store in Suntec City Mall, first infringed Levi Strauss trademarks in May 1999, and was sued.
The case was settled out of court in August that year, after the retailer agreed to comply with a court order restraining it from the trademark infringement.
But last month, the criminal investigation department's intellectual property rights branch seized from Carrefour 20 pairs of TMX jeans with back pockets that follow a pattern owned by Levi Strauss.
In mitigation, Mr Tan said his client would have derived "minimal margins" from the sale of the jeans, priced at $12 each. They were part of a larger consignment of goods from a regular supplier.
The hypermart, he argued, never sold the jeans as genuine products of Levi Strauss and that the layman would be able to tell the "obviously inferior" TMX jeans from a pair of Levi's.
He added that his client had no intention of dealing in goods which infringed Levi Strauss' copyright and would have stopped displaying the TMX jeans immediately if they had been informed of the breach.
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