The local business community is planning to intensify its educational programme on intellectual property (IP), in the wake of the conviction this week of a Bridgetown businessman for selling fake PUMA products.
In a landmark decision, Director of Ouch Boutique Grenville Ricardo Delpeache was found guilty of selling counterfeit products from Rihanna’s PUMA line and is due to know his fate on April 17, 2018 when he returns to court for sentencing, which Magistrate Graveney Bannister said could be a maximum fine of $10,000 or six months in prison, although he said a jail sentence was unlikely.
While opting not to comment on the Delpeache case, Executive Director of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Carlos Wharton told Barbados TODAY the private sector grouping would do all it could to bring members up-to-date on their rights and obligation under the relevant IP laws.
“We are acutely aware that matters relating to intellectual property are issues that we have to bring to our membership. We are hoping to conduct a couple events that will focus on intellectual property and this includes issues relating to protection of personal data. As usual a lot of these things are contingent on time and resources that are available, but our intention is to look at intellectual property,” Wharton said.
“Not only because of what happened in this recent ruling, but in the 21st century intellectual property is a fundamental regulatory dispute when you are dealing with any form of international business. So we figure that it is very important for people to appreciate their rights and obligation under intellectual property legislation. It is very important for sure,” he added.
When the 44-year-old Delpeache appeared in court earlier this week he said he had believed he was buying genuine PUMA products when he purchased them from storefronts in the United States.
“I only shop in storefronts [that] I believe to be registered and governed under US laws,” the Passage Gardens, Passage Road, St Michael man had told the court, insisting that he believed he was buying genuine PUMA “because they were marked PUMA”.
One businessman, who has been in the clothing retail business for more than two decades but did not want to be identified, told Barbados TODAY while he did not support the selling of knock-offs products as genuine, it was also easy for any store operator to be tricked into thinking they were buying the real thing.
“I have been in the business for years, but it is possible that you can get fooled. It is very possible,” he stressed.
Delpeache’s attorney-at-law Satcha Kissoon, who gave notice of his intention to appeal the verdict, said the court ruling would have consequences for small businesses here.
“This is going to have a ripple effect and a serious problem for most Barbadians because they get their goods from the same suppliers as Mr Delpeache. They go into the . . . various storefronts in New York and Miami. They rely on the integrity of the people who say they are selling genuine products and they have no reason or cause to go behind them to check. So it is going to cause a serious problem for every storeowners here,” Kissoon had explained to Barbados TODAY immediately following the decision.
A second counterfeit case, this one involving Rihanna’s 53-year-old uncle Leroy Fitzgerald Brathwaite, is also scheduled to go before the court.