Leroy Fitzgerald Brathwaite on his way to court yesterday. (Picture by Heather-Lynn Evanson.)
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In possibly the first case of its kind, a local vendor has been charged with selling knock-offs of Rihanna’s Puma line of clothing earlier this year.
Rihanna’s uncle, Leroy Fitzgerald Brathwaite, who used to go by the stage name Daddy I-Roy but has more recently styled himself De Warrior, has been charged under the Fair Trading Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Protection Act in a case that has seen the Puma representative from Curacao, Luis Leon Herman Convalis, flying in to verify the slippers and T-shirts in question.
Police investigating the matter are saying that it was while Rihanna was in Barbados that she noticed the knock-offs of her hugely popular Puma brand being sold in Swan Street.
She reported the matter to her Puma representative, who flew into the island. It was that Puma rep who made a report to police, who launched investigations.
But Brathwaite’s defence attorney is contending that the charges were improperly laid and should be dismissed.
Brathwaite, 53, of 1st Avenue, Goddings Road, Station Hill, St Michael, appeared in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court yesterday where he pleaded not guilty to the charge that in trade or in commerce as a supplier, on May 29, 2017, he falsely represented that 11 pairs of slippers and 13 T-shirts were of a particular standard, style or model, to wit, the brand Puma, contrary to the Consumer Protection Act Cap 326D.
He also denied that in trade or commerce, he engaged in conduct, to wit, exposed for sale goods bearing the trademark known as Puma which would mislead the public as to the nature of the goods.
Brathwaite was further charged that with a view to gain for himself or another, or with intent to cause loss to another and without the consent of the registered owner of a trademark Puma, he exposed for sale goods which bear the sign Puma, and which were likely to be mistaken for the registered trademark Puma. That charge was also dated May 29, 2017.
The slippers and shirts were valued at $1 000 and a Puma official from Curacao was in court to witness the event.
However, Brathwaite’s attorney Sian Lange immediately pointed to Sections 54, 55 and 56 of the Consumer Protection Act which set out the Fair Trading Commission’s powers of regulation and procedures to be taken.
Those procedures include that the FTC may serve on any person a prohibition notice “prohibiting that person from supplying or from offering to supply, agreeing to supply, exposing for supply or possessing for supply, any relevant goods which the FTC considers are unsafe, and that the Commission may serve on any person a warning notice requiring that person, at his own expense, to publish in a form and manner on occasions specified in the notice, a warning about relevant goods which the Commission considers are unsafe, which that person supplies or has supplied.
“My client has never been contacted by the Fair Trading Commission and has never been served with a warning in accordance with the act,” Lange told the District “A” Magistrates’ Court yesterday afternoon.
She then submitted that the matter was improperly brought before the court and asked for it to be dismissed.
The matter has been adjourned until next Tuesday, November 28, when the prosecution will respond to the submissions.
Until then, Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant released Brathwaite on $1 000 bail with a surety. (HLE)