Danish Supermarket fined for trademark infringement

Føtex, a local Danish supermarket has been fine DKK 200,000 ($36,500) by the Danish court for selling counterfeit Ralph Lauren polo shirts.

Føtex was forced to stop selling any more of the shirts after it had admitted that 1,624 polo shirt fakes had been sold even after Ralph Lauren notified the company in June 2012.

Copenhagen’s Commercial and Maritime Court had to decide whether the luxury brand was entitled to compensation for the counterfeiting. In a ruling on January 10, 2014 it issued a fine of less than half the DKK 500,000 ($91,200) that Ralph Lauren requested.

Claes Wildfang, an associate partner at Danish law firm LETT said that the fine is not a big amount for a case of trademark infringement.  He explained that under Danish law, trademark infringers must pay compensation if they are negligent – in this case Føtex knew or should have known that the shirts were fake.  “It’s interesting here that the court said you should have known, as a professional buyer, that the shirts were fake,” he added.

 The supermarket had argued that the shirts were sampled and bought from a new supplier in Poland, but they were not checked properly when delivered to Føtex because of its size, and its use of automated systems, checking the goods again would have been difficult.

“The ruling confirms Supreme Court precedent,” Wildfang added, “If you are a supermarket you can’t rely on random sampling – you have to check before you put products in your store … you must have some kind of quality control.”

Appeal to the Danish Supreme Court can be made by Føtex, but that option is changing from February 1, 2014 as the parties in trademark cases will have to appeal to Denmark’s High Court, which will be split into two divisions.

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