Wholesaler cum retailer prosecuted for supplying strawberries with false trade description and forged trade mark (with photos)

1 Feb 2011

The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) today (February 1) reminded traders that it is an offence under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO) to supply goods bearing a false trade description or a forged trade mark.

The reminder came after a fruit wholesaler cum retailer had recently pleaded guilty at Kowloon City Magistrates' Court to the charges of possessing and supplying strawberries with a false trade description/forged trade mark in contravention of the TDO. The defendant was fined a total of $13,000 and the seized strawberries were ordered forfeited.

C&ED had in early January received information that a brand of packed strawberries put on the local market was suspected to have false origin descriptions and a brand name in Japanese showing that it was originated from Kumamoto and a product of Agricultural Economic Cooperation Association of Kumamoto. Information also indicated that the strawberries in question were suspected being originated from the Mainland and sold at a price as low as one-tenth of the genuine Japanese strawberries.

Customs officers later found that a wholesaler cum retailer at the Fruit Wholesale Market in Yau Ma Tei had offered for sale the strawberries in question. On January 20, the officers conducted a search on the premises of the wholesaler cum retailer and seized a total of 20 cartons (406 packs) of strawberries. Among them, 334 packs in 17 cartons bore the above markings and the remaining three cartons (72 packs) bore the marking noting that the strawberries were from Korea. Investigation revealed that all the strawberries worth $1,600 were in fact imported from the Mainland but falsely represented as either Japanese or Korean origin. The sole-proprietor of the wholesaler cum retailer was subsequently arrested for further investigation.

The trade mark owner later confirmed that strawberries seized were not products of Kumamoto and Agricultural Economic Cooperation Association of Kumamoto.

A spokesman for the C&ED said, "The Department will continue to crack down on dishonest supply of goods with a false trade description or forged trade mark to protect the consumers' interest."

Under the TDO, any person who supplies goods with a false trade description or forged trade mark in the course of trade or business or has in his possession for sale any goods with a false trade description or forged trade mark is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Anyone who comes across any suspected violations of the TDO is encouraged to report to the C&ED by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Tuesday, February 1, 2011

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