Trademark Specialist Testifies As Boutique Owner Is Accused of Selling Fake PUMA Merchandise, Including From Rihanna Line

Puma trademark specialist Louis Comvalius (left) and attorney-at-law Mark Hope who both testified in court yesterday. (Photo credit: Barbados Today)


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday January 17, 2018 – A PUMA trademark specialist has told a court in Barbados that PUMA merchandise, including Rihanna’s Fenty by PUMA items that were on sale at a store in the country’s capital were “definitely fakes”.

Louis Comvalius gave that evidence as the case against the director of Ouch Boutique, Grenville Ricardo Delpeache, began in the magistrate’s court yesterday.

Delpeache, 44, is on trial for allegedly selling counterfeit PUMA by Rihanna Creeper sneakers and Fenty PUMA slippers; and exposing for sale 17 Puma slippers, seven single shoes and 31 backpacks in May last year.

Comvalius, who is based in Curaçao and has been with PUMA since 2006, distinguishes genuine goods from those that are counterfeit. He explained that he was in Barbados in May last year after getting pictures of a pair of Fenty slippers from attorney-at-law Mark Hope, who is also affiliated with PUMA.

Hope, who also gave evidence yesterday, told the court that his daughter said she purchased the item from Ouch Boutique. And Comvalius said at first glance the item appeared to be fake.

In response to questions from the prosecutor, the trademark specialist categorically stated that the items, which were on display in the court, “are false”.

He explained that the slippers, which retail for around US$200, did not have the particulars of the genuine product as the quality was different; the fur on the slippers was not properly attached to the sole; the embroidery of the PUMA cat was “off”; the label was not that of the genuine PUMA; and the care tag was in an Asian language not used by the trademark. The slippers, he said, were also not the same weight as the originals and the packaging was missing as the slippers came in boxes.

The Fenty Creeper sneakers which retail for BDS$450 (US$225) were also “cheap counterfeits”, he added. Comvalius said another shoe was easy to detect as counterfeit because it was branded as suede but it was the leather version.

The bags he identified as “definitely fakes”, as they had wrong labels and information.

“The tags are full of spelling mistakes – in German, Spanish, French, English – and that does not happen with genuine PUMA products,” the specialist said.

In fact, he said with the German tag, only the word PUMA was spelled correctly and the French was “even worse”.

Under cross-examination by attorney-at-law Satcha Kissoon, Comvalius explained that while a consumer may not be able to tell the difference between a genuine and fake product, a merchandiser should.

“Your client is not a general consumer,” he told the defence lawyer.

The Crown still has six witnesses to put on the stand while the defence has three, including Delpeache.

The boutique owner is not the only one facing charges for allegedly selling fake PUMA items. Rihanna’s uncle, Leroy Fitzgerald Brathwaite will also reappear in court next Tuesday on similar charges. The 53-year-old local businessman is accused of falsely representing that 11 pairs of slippers and 13 t-shirts were of a particular PUMA standard, quality, style or model; exposing the goods for sale, intending to benefit from their sale; and exposing the items for sale without the consent of the owner of the PUMA trademark, on May 29, 2017.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. (Adapted from Barbados Today)

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