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THREAT OF COUNTERFEIT GOODS TO SMIFFYS AND HOW THE BUSINESS IS WORKING TO PREVENT MISUSE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

THREAT OF COUNTERFEIT GOODS TO SMIFFYS AND HOW THE BUSINESS IS WORKING TO PREVENT MISUSE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The threat of counterfeiting and copyright is ever present in business today and as companies have become increasingly international, this threat now poses a global issue.

A business that is all too familiar with such issues is R H Smith & Sons Limited. Today, they’re better known as Smiffys, the UK’s leading dress-up and party retailer with offices and showrooms across Europe, USA, China and Australia. Founded in 1894, the company has diversified to dress-up, becoming famed for its on-trend and innovative designs.

We met with Dominique Peckett, director at Smiffys, to discuss the issues the business faces over counterfeit goods and the steps taken to prevent misuse of the brands Intellectual Property (IP).

Product Safety

A major concern for the business is counterfeit goods which fail to comply with health and safety regulations; product safety is taken very seriously at Smiffys. The business goes above and beyond the required legal testing for industry safety standards to ensure Smiffys products are of the highest quality on the market.

“Our dedicated team of in-house technologists rigorously test children’s costumes; our consumers can have peace of mind that our designs surpass the market standards for dress-up”

An area of concern is the children’s market; Smiffys children’s costumes exceed the safety standards required by law and comply with EN71 regulations, Nightwear (Flammability) Standards BS 5722 and BRC code of conduct. The questions that arises from counterfeit children’s costumes threatens the integrity of Smiffys as leaders of costume safety.

Business Reputation

The businesses reputation as industry leaders in dress-up is threatened by bad quality copies, branded as Smiffys. This is especially true for licensed products; copies threaten the integrity of the license itself. As the official license holder for many popular licenses like Top Gun, Roald Dahl and Grease, the business strives to uphold the quality of our licensed products.

“Our consumers could be fooled into thinking a counterfeit is a genuine license and this could reflect negatively on Smiffys; the licensed area of the business is growing continuously, and we continue to work to prevent the misuse of our licensed material”

Infringements could deter consumers from buying Smiffys in the future; driving business towards competitors and affecting Smiffys reputation as market leaders in dress-up.

Brand and Intellectual Property Protection

Smiffys take infringement of their IP rights extremely seriously, with a dedicated Brand and IP Protection team working to mitigate these risks by carrying out regular enforcement campaigns.

“It represents a direct attack on our business and is theft of our intellectual creations; our experience has found the market to be saturated with both counterfeit Smiffys and licensed products”

Through policing online platforms, Smiffys run widespread enforcement campaigns to specifically target online sellers and third parties selling substitute products. Following legal consultation, sellers identified as falsely using Smiffys trademarks and copyright images are subject to a “takedown” request. Test purchases will be made on the products confirming they are infringements. Following this, sellers will be issued with a cease & desist letter; the letter includes payment for legal costs and damages and a signature requisite preventing IP misuse in the future. This process is for both Smiffys own brand and Smiffys licensed products across all territories; protecting the integrity of an international brand.

Smiffys Successful in Copyright Judgment

In line with the work the Brand Protection and IP team undertake, Smiffys have recently been successful in securing a judgment for copyright infringement at the Royal Courts of Justice, Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. The Court agreed that the retailer, I Love Fancy Dress Ltd, had infringed Smiffys’ copyright by using several of its images on their website, Amazon and eBay stores to advertise their own brand and that of other fancy-dress manufacturers. I Love Fancy Dress Ltd was ordered to pay damages and costs to Smiffys in respect of such copyright infringement and further issued an injunction against I Love Fancy Dress Ltd to stop them from using such copyright images in the future. “We welcome the judgement and the positive outcome for our brand, the handwork of the Brand and IP Protection team has been rewarded” Smiffys continue to rigorously pursue infringers of their intellectual property and take all the necessary steps, including the issuing of court proceedings in the IPEC, to enforce the brand and copyright.

How to Avoid Counterfeit Products Smiffys have included some useful pointers on how to make sure your products are genuine and urge consumers to remain vigilant.

Always look for:

- A reputable online retailer or high street store.

- Branded packaging with insert card including legal copywrite (not just a polybag).

- Correct labelling; woven labels sewn in with care instructions and safety warnings.

- CE marks.

- Importers details.