Man selling fake Little Mix phone covers avoids jail

One of the fake phone covers.
One of the fake phone covers.

A businessman caught selling fake Little Mix, Louis Vuitton and Apple mobile phone covers, has narrowly avoided prison.

Durham County Council’s trading standards officers seized the counterfeit goods from Computer and Phone Centre and Laptop and Mobile in North Road, Durham, in October
2015.

One of the fake Apple phone covers.

One of the fake Apple phone covers.

A test purchase operation at Laptop and Mobile in February 2016 also saw the occupier of the two shops, Yaseen Imtiaz, charge £70 to install unlicensed versions of Microsoft
Windows and Microsoft Office on a laptop.

The 39-year-old, of Grange Road, Newcastle, was sentenced to ten weeks in prison for infringing copyright, engaging in misleading commercial practices, and the unauthorised
use of trade marks at Durham Crown Court. This was suspended for 18 months but could be activated if he re-offends.

He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and ten rehabilitation requirement days, and must pay costs of £500 and a victim surcharge.

The court heard Imtiaz was first interviewed by trading standards officers after the phone covers were seized in 2015.

At this time, he admitted ownership of the Computer and Phone Centre but said Laptop and Mobile belonged to his wife.

Inquires continued and led to the test purchase operation in February 2016.

In June 2016, Durham Police and trading standard officers undertook further searches of both business premises and seized a number of laptops, phone accessories and covers.

Imtiaz was arrested by police and interviewed by trading standards officers but made no comment.

Inquiries established that laptops displayed for sale at both premises contained illegal versions of Microsoft Windows.

Examination of phone accessories and mobile phone covers by brand representatives also confirmed these to be counterfeit.

Imtiaz was again interviewed in January 2017 but made no reply.

Having elected for crown court trial, on 14 May this year, Imtiaz pleaded guilty to offences before the start of his trial.

In mitigation, the court heard Imtiaz believed the software was genuine and blamed an employee for it being used.

Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection at Durham County Council, said: “Unfair trading, such as infringement of copyright and trademarks, affects not only the brand owners, but the wider local economy by creating an uneven playing field.

"Legitimate traders lose out to less scrupulous sellers.

"In this instance, Imtiaz’s offending misled consumers, who would quite rightly expect traders to offer only authentic goods for sale.

"Counterfeit goods and software do not meet the same standards of functionality and quality as their genuine counterparts.

“Trading Standards will continue to take positive action against suppliers of illegal goods, and promote a fair trading environment”.

Consumers can report sales of counterfeit goods via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.