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Freight forwarder ‘not liable’ for shipping fakes

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Two luxury brands have failed in their attempt to make a freight forwarder liable for trans-shipping fake products in two 40-ft containers from China to Batam through Singapore.

In an important ruling for the freight forwarding industry, the Court of Appeal distinguished between effective enforcement against fake products, and holding “honest commercial persons” liable who did not know that the goods were fakes.

It held that the freight forwarder was ‘merely being the conduit in the movement of the goods in question’.

The trademark proprietors had sued Singapore-based Megastar Shipping for trademark infringement in importing the counterfeit goods by sea.

The case goes back to April 2013, when Singapore Customs, inspecting two 40-foot containers, seized nearly 31,000 items, including China-made bags, shoes, belts and other fashion accessories – all fakes that could potentially have sold for over $1 million.