Jail for trade-show fraudsters

Two trade-show fraudsters have received jail sentences after Customs caught them selling fake goods at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.

A person in charge of an exhibition booth and a salesperson were sentenced to three months’ imprisonment and three months’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months respectively on March 15 and April 12 at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts for offering to supply goods with false trade description and possession of goods with a forged trademark for the purpose of trade or business.

They had contravened the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO), according to a spokesperson for Customs.

The sentence imposed on the person in charge of the exhibition booth is the heaviest penalty in the past decade among similar cases of infringement that took place at exhibition fairs.

Customs earlier received the trademark owner’s information alleging the display of counterfeit handbags for order at a booth in a leather fair held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

After investigation, Customs officers conducted a test-buy operation and successfully ordered 500 counterfeit handbags and seized five counterfeit handbag samples at a booth with an estimated market value of about $40,000 in total. A 36-year-old man in charge and a 29-year-old saleslady were arrested and prosecuted.

The Customs spokesperson promised to continue to take “stringent enforcement action” to combat infringing activities. Booth exhibitors are reminded to respect intellectual property rights and not to sell counterfeit goods.

Under the TDO, any person who sells or possesses for sale any goods with a forged trademark commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Despite stringent vetting of exhibitors, fake products at major Hong Kong exhibitions has been concerning authorities for some time. In September 2016, Customs officers seized a fake branded jewellery at a trade show in the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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