An online trader who was producing and selling counterfeit t-shirts has been ordered to pay £68,357 under the Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002 following a hearing at Belfast Crown Court.
In a case brought by the Trading Standards Service of the Department for the Economy, Mr Paul Gerard McDonald (53) of Serpentine Road, Newtownabbey had pleaded guilty to eight charges under the Trade Marks Act 1994 in Belfast Magistrates’ Court on 25 August 2015.
The business was brought to the attention of the Trading Standards Service following a complaint on behalf of trade mark holders. Investigations revealed that Mr McDonald had a substantial presence on a popular online auction/buying site under the name ‘Sofakingcool’.
In November 2013, Trading Standards Officers visited Mr McDonald’s home where they found a garden shed set up as a small factory with printing equipment, t-shirts and computers. In the two year period prior to Trading Standards action against him, investigations show he had in excess of 20,000 sales on the website with a total value of more than £100,000.
Nicholas Lane, Inspector for Trading Standards Service, said: “Counterfeiting harms legitimate business and threatens jobs. The Trading Standards Service will continue to uncover sellers of counterfeit goods on auction sites and social media sites and we will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any trader found to be selling fakes. Magistrates’ Courts can impose penalties of up to £5,000 and/or six months in prison per offence if trademarks or copyrights are infringed. Individuals can also be subject to investigations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.”
The trader had also been sentenced to 80 hours Community Service for the same matter by the Crown Court in May 2016.