The Court ruled in an interim verdict that notwithstanding the normal rules on burden of proof (being that the burden of proof lies with the importer to demonstrate that the goods were brought into the European market with consent of the trademark owner, in this case Converse) would in this particular case be slightly changed. The Court decided that it would be Converse to proof its claim that the organization behind the imports was an illegal organization. This because Converse, as of the beginning of the dispute, claimed that a big fraudulent organization was behind these illegal imports of counterfeits.
Forensic experts/accountants have been analyzing the paperwork and concluded that Sporttrading could not be blamed for relying on the paperwork that came with the shipments. Along the procedure it became clear that the attorney of Converse had omitted parts of the information requested by the Court. The Court has decided in favor of Sporttrading.
The Court ruled that there is no trademark infringement and Converse's claims are rejected.
Under Dutch rules of civil procedure now Converse has been struck by its own boomerang because it has to pay for all legal costs, namely those of its own attorney (holding back some information for Court) and those of the Sporttrading, accumulating in a staggering amount of nearly 500,000 euro.
If it can be proven that Sporttrading's bankruptcy is a result of the false accusations the backfiring might be even worse for Converse (and its attorney) than just the boomerang of legal costs…
To be continued…
By: Gie van den Broek