The director of a Shirebrook company that makes and sells car mats has received a suspended jail sentence after admitting 13 offences under the Trade Marks Act.
Lee Radford, 46, of Brook House, Long Lane, Shirebrook, who was the company secretary and is now the only director at Cyberspares Limited, on Leen Valley Drive, was prosecuted following an investigation by Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards team.
His company was also prosecuted and admitted the same set of charges.
Following a tip off from trading standards at another authority, Derbyshire County Council trading standards officers made a test purchase of a set of Honda Type R car mats costing £24.99 from Cyberspares Ltd in November 2015.
The embroidered badge on these mats turned out to be fake and a search of the Cyberspares Ltd factory, based on Rotherham Road, New Houghton, near Pleasley, was carried out in May last year.
During the search, Derbyshire trading standards officers seized 14,860 car mat badges and a computer connected to an embroidery machine which made the badges.
At a previous hearing at Chesterfield Magistrates Court in April this year, Radford pleaded guilty to 13 charges under the Trade Marks Act 1994, on behalf of himself and the company.
Brands which had their registered trademarks illegally reproduced by Radford and Cyberspares Ltd included VW, Audi, Honda, Mercedes Benz, John Cooper and Vauxhall. It is illegal to copy these logos as the brands are registered trademarks and can only be reproduced with the owning company’s consent.
Trading standards officers were confident that Radford knew what he was doing was wrong as they had advised him on the law in 2010 and he had earlier agreed to compensate BMW for the misuse of its logo.
At Derby Crown Court on Thursday (7 Dec) Judge Cooke sentenced Radford to eight months in prison, suspended for two years. He was also given a three month curfew order requiring him to remain at his home between 8pm and 5am each day and ordered to pay the county council’s court costs of £4,906.
Cyberspares Ltd was fined £1,000 for each of the 13 offences.
Judge Cooke also ordered the forfeiture of all of the trade-marked badges and associated badge-making equipment which had been seized previously by trading standards officers as part of the investigation.
A key part of the case was action under the Proceeds of Crime Act – which is designed to make sure that crime does not pay. Enquiries were made to identify the proportion of illegal sales going back to 2011, and as a result Radford was ordered to repay £271,482 - the amount he is estimated to have benefited from his crime.
Judge Cooke gave him three months to repay the money or face a prison sentence of 30 months in default.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said: “Illegally using trademarks without the consent of the company which owns them is serious and we were confident that Radford and his company knew what they were doing was wrong.
“Despite a previous warning, this practice continued and I am pleased that our trading standards officers pursued this and were successful in their prosecution.
“I hope this serves as a warning to others who do this or are considering it. We always follow up tip-offs like this and the consequences are serious.”
Radford and Cyberspares Ltd admitted the following charges:
• One charge relating to the sale of a set of car mats, bearing a sign identical or likely to be mistaken for the Honda UK registered trademark, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994.
• Three charges relating to the application of car logos to embroidered badges which were to be put on car mats.
• Eight charges relating to the possession of various counterfeit badges consisting of car logos contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994.
• A final charge relating to the equipment Radford and Cyberspares Ltd had adapted to copy car badges and embroider them on their machines.