Proprietor convicted for applying false trade description in selling sugar cane juice

5 Feb 2015

A sole proprietor of a beverage store today (February 5) was convicted at the Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts on the charge of offering to supply sugar cane juice with a false trade description in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). The sole proprietor was fined $7,500. The seized beverages, at a total value of $458, as well as the signboard of the store were also confiscated.

Acting on information, Customs officers initiated an investigation into a take-away beverage store in Mong Kok in August last year. The investigation revealed that the logo on the store's signboard was highly similar in shape, colour, wording and font to a registered trade mark of another beverage supplier. Although the beverages sold at the store were served in unmarked plastic cups or bottles, the signboard constituted a trade description of the products and misled customers into believing that the products were supplied or manufactured by the beverage supplier with the registered trade mark. Customs took enforcement action and initiated prosecution against the store.

Customs reminds traders that under the TDO a trade description in relation to goods can be by whatever means, direct or indirect, and includes an indication of the goods' manufacturer, supplier and trade mark. A false trade description is defined as a trade description which is false to a material degree, or which, though not false, is misleading, that is to say, likely to be taken for a trade description of a kind that would be false to a material degree.

A Customs spokesperson said that a product brand was often associated with quality and was one of the important factors in making a purchase decision. In this case, a consumer could only rely on the storefront including the sign outside the store to identify the entity which sold the beverages. The store intended to make use of the false trade description to promote its sales with a view of making more profit.

Under the TDO, it is an offence for any person in the course of trade or business to supply or offer to supply any goods to which a false trade description is applied. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, February 5, 2015

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