Watch seller James Lum and the Watch Cabin Limited were sentenced at York Crown Court today.
Lum pleaded guilty to two offences of attempting to sell goods bearing signs likely to be mistaken for trademarks without consent, and four offences of attempting to possess goods bearing signs likely to be mistaken for trademarks without consent, contrary to the Criminal Attempts Act 1981.
North Yorkshire trading standards officers made test purchases of an Emporio Armani ARI 451 Men’s Ceramica Chronograph watch at a cost of £169 and a Hugo Boss 1513578 Men’s Grand PrixGQ Black Chronograph Watch for £199 from the Watch Cabin website in June and November 2019. Both watches were examined by representatives of the trademark owners and confirmed to be fake.
In January 2020, trading standards officers and police arrested Mr Lum, of Canary Wharf, London. A total of 928 watches were recovered from Mr Lum’s home and his distribution service, being 502 Armani, 321 Hugo Boss, 79 Diesel and 26 Marc Jacobs. Representatives of the trademark owners examined examples of these watches and again confirmed they were counterfeit.
Lum and the Watch Cabin Ltd accepted that the watches had been imported from China or Hong Kong and had been sold without the authorisation of the trademark owners.
Had the seized watches been genuine, they would have had a value of £393,936. The value for which they would have been sold had they not been seized was calculated at £156,832.
In sentencing Lum, His Honour Judge Hickey noted that he was trading from April 2014 and had received advice in 2017 that his activities were illegal. “That was a fork in the road but you carried on rather than close the business,” he said. He also took account of a pre-sentence report from the Probation Service and the mitigation offered by Lum’s counsel that Lum is the sole carer for both his parents, is not a risk to the public and has a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.
Lum was handed a 12 months’ community order with a requirement to complete 150 hours of unpaid work for each offence to run concurrently. The company was ordered to pay a nominal fine of £1 per offence but now faces confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 along with Lum.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Derek Bastiman, portfolio holder for trading standards said: “The sale of counterfeit goods is damaging not only to unsuspecting consumers who are misled, but also to the trademark owners and retailers who have worked hard, often over many years, to build a brand and establish a customer base. I would encourage residents only to buy branded goods from established outlets and to research the seller’s business and contact details and feedback before deciding to buy.”
People can report suspected fakes or get advice about them from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.