Friday 23 March 2018

Men charged with Abercrombie & Fitch trademark fraud tell court clothing was bought in 'good faith'

Abercrombie and Fitch's giant poster at the new store.
Abercrombie and Fitch's giant poster at the new store.

The jury in the case of three men charged with the fraudulent use of clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch’s trade mark have heard details of the men’s interviews with gardai .

Mark McCarthy (43) of Homeleigh, Porterstown Road, Dublin 15, has pleaded not guilty to possession and distribution of goods or material bearing a mark identical to or nearly resembling a registered trade mark within the state on dates between February 4th, 2007 and February 11, 2008.

Michael McCartan (46) of Carraig An Iolair, Barna, Galway has pleaded not guilty to possession of similar goods at McCartan and McCartan, Millennium Business Park, Snugborough Road, Dublin 11 on February 11, 2008.

Peter Rafter (40) of Southmede, Ballinteer Road, Dundrum has pleaded not guilty to possession of similar goods at RB Menswear, Powerscourt Town Centre on May 23, 2008.

The jury have already heard garda evidence of the search and seizure of alleged counterfeit goods from the business premises of Mr McCartan and Mr Rafter in 2008.

Detective Garda David Foley, now retired, told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that Mr McCartan met gardai and spoke to them at his business premises in Millennium Business Park when they attended there with a search warrant in February 2008. 

Mr McCartan described his business as wholesale in causal clothing and said he had a business partner. He said he had bought Abercrombie & Fitch clothing from an agent, Mark McCarthy, and was not dealing directly with the company.

He said the stock was “cabbage” (end of line or last season stock) and he would like to think he would be able to spot counterfeit clothing. He said he did not have authorisation from Abercrombie & Fitch to sell the clothing as it was “cabbage” and this was a grey area.

He said he had paid for the stock by cheque to Mr McCarthy’s suppliers.

He told gardai there was no fake Abercrombie & Fitch in the warehouse and said they did not have anyone vet the stock but went on instinct.

On February 14, 2008 Mr McCarthy spoke to gardai and described himself as a “consultant” who sourced products in Asia. He said his main business was not in fashion.

He said he had sourced clothes from “Fashions House” in China who act as agents for an “umbrella group” of factories. He said he was aware there was a demand for Abercrombie & Fitch and discussed its legal importation with his business partner.

He outlined how he organised licenses to import cotton into Europe and the financing of the transaction. He said he had no concerns that the clothing was not genuine. He said he did not have a licence from Abercrombie & Fitch.

Detective Inspector Micheal Cryan said Mr Rafter spoke to gardai by arrangement in September 2008 and outlined he had taken over the shop from his brother.

He said he bought the clothing in “good faith” from McCartan and McCartan as well as some online through the  Abercrombie & Fitch website. He said he had not looked at the company policy on counterfeiting.

Mr Rafter told gardai he had got all sorts of brands from all over the world and had never had a problem. He said he had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the goods which he had bought from an established company. He said the goods were “cabbage.”

He told gardai the retail value of the goods seized from his store was about €50,000 for which he had paid about €20,000.

Mr Rafter denied a garda suggestion that he had “consciously and deliberately” moved into selling counterfeit goods. He said he was not aware that Abercrombie & Fitch did not license anyone else to sell their clothing.

He told gardai he faith in the supplier he had purchased the goods from.

The trial continues before Judge Sarah Berkeley and a jury.

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