A trader has been jailed for 30 weeks, and other company directors punished after a ring trading counterfeit branded car mats was exposed in Chorley.
Stuart Johnson, 41, of The Ridings, Chorley, admitted four counts of selling car mats bearing an unauthorised trademark, two of possessing fabric badges bearing unauthorised trade marks, aiding and abetting the firm and two of aiding and abetting another defendant to offer them for sale.
His wife Nicola Shepherd, 39, director of Car Mat World Ltd, admitted three offences of selling car mats bearing a trademark and possessing 1,048 fabric badges bearing unauthorised trade marks, on the basis she was not an active participant in the sales side of the business.
Her 12 week sentence was suspended for 52 weeks.
A linked firm, Styleline8 Ltd, which operated a “drop-shipping agreement” with their company, admitted a trademark offence, and its director Andrew Short became the first offender in Lancashire to pay ill gotten gains to charity under new legislation used by Lancashire Trading Standards.
Chris Astley, 36, of Lawrence Close, Eccleston, Chorley, who ran another firm that offered the goods for sale online, was fined £370 after admitting two trademark offences
Prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, Richard Archer said: " Car Mat World Limited operated a manufacturing unit at the Earnshaw Business Centre, Hugh Lane, Leyland, making replica car mats, which were offered for sale via eBay and Amazon."
He said suspicions surrounding Car Mat World Limited were aroused in summer 2014 when Graham Mogg, an independent investigator under contract to BMW, undertook investigations into an Amazon seller known as Sports Car Mats.
Raids in December 2014 at Earnshaw Business Park uncovered completed car mats and badges bearing fake logos and car mats in various stages of completion, and machinery used in the manufacture of mats.
Other mats were found in a simultaneous raid at the couple's then home at Harbour Barn, Wheelton.
In interview Johnson said he had not thought that what he was doing amounted to counterfeiting and claimed badged car mats only accounted for about 20% of the company’s sales