A FISHERMAN who landed almost 600 items of clothing from a Florida store has been taken to court here by an American clothing giant -- after he set up a replica shop.
Max Kulczynski has agreed to return the branded clothing -- thought to be worth at least €10,000 -- to the American brand Abercrombie & Fitch.
He had been selling the clothing from a converted shop at the back of his home in Kilkee, Co Clare, when gardai raided the premises earlier this year.
Under the 1996 Tradesmarks Act, it is illegal to sell trademarked goods from the US in Ireland unless they are licensed to be sold here and the manufacturer has given consent.
Mr Kulczynski had bought the clothing from a Hollister store in Vero Beach, Florida -- owned by Abercrombie & Fitch -- and shipped it back to Clare, where he had been selling it without the agreement of the manufacturer.
The west Clare shop had been fitted out in an attempt to replicate a standard Hollister-branded store.
According to court papers, when gardai raided the shop on the evening of May 18, eight cars were parked outside, with 14 customers inside.
Two large rooms with men and women's Hollister clothing, along with other major clothing brand names, such as Aeropostale, were stocked inside the shop. Gardai instructed the customers to leave and they then seized 596 items.
Mr Kulczynski, who is originally from England, appeared in Ennis District Court yesterday on foot of a warrant to seize the clothing. The warrant had been granted after an investigator made a complaint to gardai on behalf of the American clothing giant.
Cian Kelly, barrister for Mr Kulczynski, told Judge Patrick Durcan that his client was consenting to the application. Mr Kulczynski remained silent throughout the brief hearing.
In papers filed before yesterday's case, Mr Kulczynski told investigators that he worked as a fisherman and spent three months a year in Florida.
He said he imported the goods from an individual in the retail clothing industry in the US state and that another company shipped the items to him in Ireland.
Some of the Hollister clothing bought at the Florida store included fleeces priced at €15, tracksuit pants for €28, a hoodie for €15 and sweaters for €11 and accessories for €4.
It is unknown what price Mr Kulczynski was charging for the clothing or how much had been sold before the raid.
William Cahir, the solicitor acting for Abercrombie & Fitch, said it did not seek costs against Mr Kulczynski for the case.
The judge ordered that the seized goods be delivered to Abercrombie & Fitch.