US sportswear giants Nike Innovate CV and Puma SE have been granted an injunction preventing the Comptroller of Customs from releasing to a local clothing business thousands of seized Nike, Air Jordan and Puma slippers which are said to be fake.
Justice Frank Seepersad granted the injunction after a virtual hearing on Monday.
It came after brief submissions by lawyers for the two sportswear companies, Customs and Excise and the clothing store that allegedly imported the goods on the court’s jurisdiction to include a party (Customs and Excise) not named in the action, since the Trademarks Act allowed it.
It was also granted after the defendant had no objection except that the companies' statement of case lacked particulars to show why they believe the goods are fake.
Attorney Kiel Taklalsingh, who represents DB Funstyles Clothing Ltd, which was named as the defendant, said his team questioned if the claimants had an arguable case since no particulars of alleged infringement were raised.
Nike and Puma will be allowed to inspect a sample of the goods and amend their statement of case. A preliminary inspection has already been done, the judge was told. The companies were represented by attorneys Miguel Vasquez and Fanta Punch.
In its application, Punch said the consignments of goods – 7,300 pairs of counterfeit slippers with the word Nike, its trademark "Swoosh" emblem, the "Jumpman" emblem, and the "Jordan" emblem, as well as 660 pairs of fake Puma slippers with its trademark name and logo – were seized in December.
The consignments were assigned to DB Funstyles.
The injunction restrains Customs from releasing the fake slippers to the company pending the determination of the copyright infringement claim and also restrains the clothing company from selling, disposing or parting with any of the goods until the court gives a final ruling.
Nike Innovate and Puma SE claim an attempt was made to import the fake slippers in December.
Customs detained them on reasonable suspicion that they were counterfeit and the two companies were told of the seizure in January.
The application says after it received the notice of seizure, Nike and Puma began trademark-infringement proceedings against DB Funstyles.
The slippers are in the custody of the Customs and Excise Division and Nike and Puma say they want the goods preserved pending the resolution of their claim, since there is a real risk they will suffer prejudice if they are released.
Punch explained that there is a risk of the fake items being sold and the determination of their claim that the slippers are fake will depend on a physical examination of them.
"There is a real risk that the claimants will be hampered and/or frustrated from accessing the evidence required to prove their claim;
"There is a real risk that a judgment in the claimants’ favour will be frustrated because the seized goods may be sold, disposed of and/or otherwise enter the local market which will negate the claimants’ rights and/or interests which are protected by the act and will cause consequential damage; and the release of the seized goods is likely to disrupt the local market due to the entry of infringing goods, counterfeit goods and/or goods bearing counterfeit trademarks which is likely to deceive customers."
Seepersad was told while the boxes were in the custody of Customs, they were physically at DB Funstyles' establishment in Debe, separated from its regular stock.
It was for this reason Vasquez asked for that part of the order to prevent the business from selling or disposing of the stock until the matter is determined.
The judge has already indicated he wants an early trial because of the commercial aspect of the case.