The owner of a Dorset-based online fancy dress costume business has been ordered to pay up over £65,000 following a prosecution for the misuse of trade marks.
On 5 September 2019, at Bournemouth Crown Court, Ms Michelea Mariner (aged 49) was sentenced having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to seven offences, under the Trade Marks Act 1994, of selling, advertising and possessing costumes bearing illegal copies of registered trade marks. The case was initially prosecuted by Dorset County Council and concluded by Dorset Council following an investigation into Mariner's finances.
Mariner was given a three-year conditional discharge, ordered to pay a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation order for £65,000 and £1,500 towards prosecution costs. A forfeiture order was made for the 196 counterfeit costumes seized from Mariner's home address by Trading Standards.
Mariner operated the internet-based business 'The Hen Party Store', which traded as 'Henpartiesandmore', from her home address mainly selling fancy dress outfits, aimed at the hen party market. Following a complaint to Trading Standards by a licensed supplier of similar goods, officers made test purchases and subsequently obtained a warrant to enter the property where the business was based, where, in July 2018, they seized nearly 200 suspect costumes and business-related documents and computer equipment.
Investigations revealed that most of the products being sold were illegal copies of costumes bearing trademarked images such as Superwoman, Snow White, Supergirl, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and Batman, all of which were being used without permission of the trademark owners.
The court also heard that in October 2017 one of the internet-based selling platforms she was using, Etsy, contacted her advising that she was selling trade mark-infringing copies and that they were closing her online shop, but she continued selling through a variety of other online outlets.
Ivan Hancock, Service Manager for Trading Standards at Dorset Council, said:
"The sale of counterfeit goods can have a seriously detrimental effect on legitimate businesses selling genuine goods, as well as damaging the business of trade mark owners. We will continue to take enforcement action in appropriate cases and undertake the financial investigations necessary to recover proceeds of crime.
Any Dorset business requiring guidance on compliance with trade mark law or other trading standards legislation can call the trading standards business advice line on 01305 224702."