As a company, Bonningtons take the integrity of our brands seriously and work constantly behind the scenes to protect our intellectual property. Our products are the type that sell extremely well on online platforms such as Amazon and Ebay, and because of this, rogue traders can be tempted to jump on their popularity and trick consumers into believing they are buying a genuine Kingfisher product, when in reality the trader sends a cheaper, inferior substitute item.
This malpractice damages not only our brand integrity, but also the reputations of our valued genuine online sellers who find it difficult to compete against substitute sellers who list products at impossibly cheap prices.
The press release below illustrates how seriously Bonningtons takes these practices, and the actions we have taken, and continue to take to protect our business and that of our customers.
Bonnington Plastics wins £80,000 for Kingfisher brand infringement (published February 2015)
Source: DIY Week.net - http://www.diyweek.net/
Bonnington Plastics, the company behind the Kingfisher gardening and homewares brand, has secured a five-figure settlement from a group of companies after bringing a claim in the High Court for intellectual infringement.
The infringers were keen to capitalise on the reputation of Bonnington's Kingfisher brand.
After developing innovative software to monitor the sales of its products online, Bonnington discovered that companies in the Toptrade Group, which included Bradford-based Zoozio, Trade Marketing and Verage, were advertising Kingfisher goods on sites such as Amazon and eBay. However, the companies were supplying their own branded products under the Kingfisher listings.
Wholesaler Bonningtons, which established its Kingfisher brand in 1967, does not sell directly on Amazon or eBay but its retail customers use the sites to sell Kingfisher products. After numerous letters to the infringers without a satisfactory response, Bonningtons' managing director Ian Fisher instructed intellectual property (IP) specialists at Manchester law firm Pannone Corporate to tackle the problem.
Mr Fisher said: "We found that these companies were advertising Kingfisher products at impossibly low prices. This was causing our retail customers to believe that we were offering better prices to their competitors. We started buying from these companies and found out that they weren't supplying Kingfisher goods at all. It was really damaging the brand and I decided that enough was enough."
Bonningtons estimates that these 'substitute sellers' were costing the business about £1m a year in lost sales, and its in-house investigations showed that, at the peak of the problem, one in every two items advertised online as Kingfisher was a substitute product. Bonningtons said that Zoozio, Trade Marketing and Verage were former customers of Bonnington but had started to import their own products from China. Keen to capitalise on the reputation of the Kingfisher brand, the companies then piggy-backed on the Kingfisher listings, supplying their own branded products, tricking consumers into thinking they were purchasing legitimate Kingfisher goods at a discounted price.
Mr Fisher added: "The goods looked almost identical to Kingfisher products. The packaging was so similar that it was difficult to tell them apart and they had even used photos taken by our graphic design team."
Pannone Corporate issued a High Court claim on behalf of Bonnington alleging passing off and trademark and copyright infringement. The claim was eventually settled on terms which awarded Bonnington £80,000 in compensation and banned the Toptrade Group from selling its own goods under Kingfisher listings online.
Sarah Bazaraa, IP solicitor at Pannone Corporate, said: "This is a fantastic result for Bonnington and sends a strong message to the market that infringement of its IP rights will not be tolerated. We are working with Bonnington to take action against another group of companies and their directors and we are committed to helping the company to stamp out this problem." Ms Bazaraa went on to explain that, whilst good progress had been made, putting a stop to the practice of substitute selling presented significant challenges. "Each product sold on Amazon is given an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number)," she said. "Amazon allows sellers to upload products with a new ASIN or to an existing ASIN (if they are selling an identical product). However, some companies are taking advantage of this function and advertising their own products under an established brand's listing in order to take advantage of the superior ranking and pulling power of that brand."
Bonningtons has vowed to continue its crusade against the online infringers, and its approach to the protection of its IP was recognised in November last year when it scooped the In-House Innovation Award at the British Legal Awards.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations
Bonnington Plastics meet the definition of a producer under the WEEE Regulations, as follows, requiring them to ensure compliance:
Businesses who place electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) on the UK market for the first time by importing, manufacturing, rebranding or distance selling are considered producers under the regulations.
The UK WEEE Regulations were first introduced in 2007 with the aim of reducing the amount of EEE ending up in landfill. As per the requirements of the Regulations, Bonnington Plastics finance the recovery and recycling of WEEE when it reaches the end of its life and ensure their EEE products are marked accordingly with a crossed out wheeled bin symbol and a date mark. They also provide information on reuse and environmentally sound treatment of the products.
Bonnington Plastics are fully compliant with all responsibilities as a registered member of UK government approved WEEE Compliance Scheme, Comply Direct. The scheme takes on the producer’s legal compliance and works with them to ensure all necessary steps to ensure they achieve compliance are fulfilled, including data submissions to the Environment Agency and procurement of recycling evidence.
Bonnington Plastics Ltd’s WEEE producer registration number is WEE/CD0415WZ