Plastics and Pannone Corporate to host free IP seminar to help companies
protect their brands
Bonnington Plastics, the company behind the UK’s
leading gardening and homeware brand, Kingfisher, has joined forces with
intellectual property experts at law firm Pannone Corporate to host a free
seminar on IP and brand protection.
Bonnington has been on a mission to tackle online IP
infringement for more than two years and last month announced it had reached an
£80,000 out-of-court settlement with a group of serial infringers.
Now, the Nottingham-based importer is looking to share
its experiences of the struggle against “substitute selling” and raise
awareness of the issue which it believes is one of the biggest threats to
online retailers today.
Over the past 12 months, Bonnington has issued claims
against nine companies and their directors for IP violations including
trademark infringement, passing off and breach of copyright and has secured
numerous settlement pay-outs totalling almost £100,000.
Bonnington’s managing director, Ian Fisher, said: “A couple of years ago, we noticed that a few
companies were advertising their own products under Kingfisher listings on
Amazon but we had no idea of the true scale of the problem at that time. Some
of the companies we have gone after were listing huge numbers of Kingfisher
products and 100 per cent of the items they were supplying under these listings
were their own-branded goods.
“I want to share what we have learned and show other
companies, especially my customers and competitors, how to protect their brands
and stop unscrupulous companies damaging their businesses. This is a problem
that we all have to come together to fight. If we don’t take action now, there
will be no future for any of us.”
In order to monitor the sales of goods advertised under
Kingfisher listings, Bonnington teamed up with Williams Commerce, an IT company
based in Leicester, to develop innovative new software to help focus the
company’s investigations. The software allows Bonnington to track which
companies are selling its products on Amazon and eBay and identifies companies
which are not customers of Bonnington.
The seminar will be delivered by Bonnington’s in-house
legal team and IP specialists from Manchester law firm, Pannone Corporate, and
will feature a demonstration of the software.
Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their
own experience of online IP infringement and benefit from advice from lawyers
who have pioneered the approach to tackling this threat to internet retail.
Sarah Bazaraa, an IP solicitor with Pannone Corporate,
said: “Bonnington has been relentless in its pursuit of online infringers and I
think that it is fantastic that it is looking to share its knowledge with the
market. At the end of the day, ridding online selling platforms of these
substitute sellers is a benefit, not just for Bonnington and its customers, but
for internet retailers in general”.
The seminar will be held on April 15 between 2pm and
4pm. Anyone interested in attending
should reserve their place by sending an email with their name, company name
and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: DIY Week.net - http://www.diyweek.net/
Bonnington Plastics, the company behind the Kingfisher gardening and homewares brand, has secured a five-figure settlement from a group of companies after bringing a claim in the High Court for intellectual infringement.
The infringers were keen to capitalise on the reputation of Bonnington's Kingfisher brand
After developing innovative software to monitor the sales of its products online, Bonnington discovered that companies in the Toptrade Group, which included Bradford-based Zoozio, Trade Marketing and Verage, were advertising Kingfisher goods on sites such as Amazon and eBay. However, the companies were supplying their own branded products under the Kingfisher listings.
Wholesaler Bonnington, which established its Kingfisher brand in 1967, does not sell directly on Amazon or eBay but its retail customers use the sites to sell Kingfisher products.
After numerous letters to the infringers without a satisfactory response, Bonnington's managing director Ian Fisher instructed intellectual property (IP) specialists at Manchester law firm Pannone Corporate to tackle the problem.
Mr Fisher said: "We found that these companies were advertising Kingfisher products at impossibly low prices. This was causing our retail customers to believe that we were offering better prices to their competitors.
"We started buying from these companies and found out that they weren't supplying Kingfisher goods at all. It was really damaging the brand and I decided that enough was enough."
Bonnington estimates that these 'substitute sellers' were costing the business about £1m a year in lost sales, and its in-house investigations showed that, at the peak of the problem, one in every two items advertised online as Kingfisher was a substitute product.
Bonnington said that Zoozio, Trade Marketing and Verage were former customers of Bonnington but had started to import their own products from China.
Keen to capitalise on the reputation of the Kingfisher brand, the companies then piggy-backed on the Kingfisher listings, supplying their own branded products, tricking consumers into thinking they were purchasing legitimate Kingfisher goods at a discounted price.
Mr Fisher added: "The goods looked almost identical to Kingfisher products. The packaging was so similar that it was difficult to tell them apart and they had even used photos taken by our graphic design team."
Pannone Corporate issued a High Court claim on behalf of Bonnington alleging passing off and trademark and copyright infringement. The claim was eventually settled on terms which awarded Bonnington £80,000 in compensation and banned the Toptrade Group from selling its own goods under Kingfisher listings online.
Sarah Bazaraa, IP solicitor at Pannone Corporate, said: "This is a fantastic result for Bonnington and sends a strong message to the market that infringement of its IP rights will not be tolerated. We are working with Bonnington to take action against another group of companies and their directors and we are committed to helping the company to stamp out this problem."
Ms Bazaraa went on to explain that, whilst good progress had been made, putting a stop to the practice of substitute selling presented significant challenges.
"Each product sold on Amazon is given an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number)," she said. "Amazon allows sellers to upload products with a new ASIN or to an existing ASIN (if they are selling an identical product). However, some companies are taking advantage of this function and advertising their own products under an established brand's listing in order to take advantage of the superior ranking and pulling power of that brand."
Bonningtons has vowed to continue its crusade against the online infringers, and its approach to the protection of its IP was recognised in November last year when it scooped the In-House Innovation Award at the British Legal Awards.
The Christmas 2015 Pre Buy is now on!
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