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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Hi I had a replica watch that I bought online seized by

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I had a replica watch that I bought online seized by the right holder. I was sent an intimidating email from an "agent" acting on behalf of the right holder saying that if I didn't agree to have the watch destroyed I would potentially have legal action against me. I bought this watch from some cheap Chinese site claiming its a "fashion watch". I didn't know it was a replica and it was only supposed to be a present for someone. Now the site is gone and I've lost my money. Are they empty threats or shall I appeal? I live in the UK


Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. I will try to help with this.

Which is the right holder?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
the right holder is LVMH and Hublot SA according to this email
I haven't heard of them.

However, if the watch is replica then it is possible that they could take this action. Obviously I cannot say whether they will in this specific case as it depends on the variables but what they are threatening is not impossible.

The fact that you did not know it was a replica may be a defence depending on the circumstances. They will be arguing that you must have known though at least at the time that you possessed it rather than at the time of purchase.

If you accept this watch is a replica then appealing would be risky I'm afraid. Sometimes risky actions do pay off but you should be aware of the risk you take.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please remember to rate my service either OK SERVICE or above and then I will give you related information for free.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The company are LVMH (LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton S.A., better known as LVMH, is a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate, headquartered in Paris. )1) I didn't know it was a replica2) is it illegal to purchase replica items. According to some websites and reports from the BBC and Telegraph, consumers are not affected3) what is the worst that can happen to me if I continue my objection of them ordering the UKBA destroying this watch I.e. am I likely to face criminal charges for a replica watch which at very most will be worn on an individuals wrist for a few months (before it breaks down!)I think it is ridiculous.
1 Please see above.

2 It is if you purchase with knowledge and they are probably saying you did.

3 They could sue for lost profits and costs if they can show that you knew.

There is a criminal offence that does cover purchase of replicas with knowledge but they are not likely to bring it. Trading standards don't act against consumers generally.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So it all basically boils down to whether I knew that it was a replica at the time of purchase. Remember, I bought it from a website which made no indication that it was a replica watch which infringed copyright laws.

The fact that I know now that it is a replica, does that effect my case?
Yes, trading standards wont' target you as you are arguably the person who has been scammed. But the company potentially could sue for loss of profits although whether they would in practice or not is another matter.

I suppose they could rely on the fact that you do now know though and you haven't reported this matter.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Well, the fact that they have "caught" me nullifies the need for me to report it doesn't it i.e. I had nothing to report until they found the perpetrating item? Who else could I possibly report this to?

And finally, sorry if this is a silly question, but if, in the worst case scenario and this giant company do decide to sue poor little me, will I be left with a criminal record as well as an empty pocket?

But they will be arguing that you knew at the time of sale and pointing to the manner of purchase to support that - at least potentially.

There is a criminal offence but trading standards would not prosecute you alone.

The company could sue in the civil courts. Costs are the real issue usually. Whats the value of the watch and how much did you pay?

Also, are the company UK based?

Delighted to continue with this but please rate my answer.
Jo C. and other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I have rated your answer. Sorry for not doing it earlier. At the point of sale I didn't not it was a replica of an LVMH watch. I was just told it was a gold plated fashion watch. That's all. I only found out it was a replica after it had been seized and I got a letter from UKBA and the agent. The purchase was made on the Internet and I believe the company is based in China. I payed around £300 for this watch (yes I was scammed). This has become a painful learning process. :(I can't believe I could potentially deemed a criminal after being scammed. What are the average costs in civil courts? I really want to defend myself in this injustice but feel nervous. Never been to court and certainly don't want a criminal record.
You won't get a criminal record. Trading standards won't prosecute you for this.

All that may happen is that the company could sue for lost profits although that isn't all that likely really.

What would the watch be worth roughly if it were genuine?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Those watches sell for around £20,000. Obviously that is not their profit margin.

I'm glad I won't be a criminal in this case.

Once I submit my appeal to LVMH representatives, I believe they have 10 days to file a case against me otherwise the watch must be delivered to me- am I correct in this assumption?
No. They have much longer to file a case in practice. They would have to account for delay to the court.

Are they UK based?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
LVMH are a French luxury goods conglomerate.Here is where I got the theory of UKBA only allowed to hold the watch for 10 days unless court action is taken within that timeframe. The lawAn EU Regulation (1383/2003) authorises EU member states' customs authorities, such as HMRC, to detain goods thought to be counterfeit.The Regulation was implemented into UK law by The Goods Infringing Intellectual Property Rights (Customs) Regulations 2004 and worked well for many years with a procedure that was generally regarded as helpful to rights holders: HMRC would detain suspected counterfeit goods, contact the likely rights holder and the detention continued pending the rights holder's response.However, HMRC's rules, adopted in June 2009, now mean that HMRC will only detain goods for 10 days unless the rights holder takes court action. If the rights holder fails to take action within 10 days (or a further 10 days if requested), HMRC will release the goods.Is this correct or just bogus information?
It's not the best source of legal advice.

They do only have a limited period to sue but its not 10 days

If this company has no base in the UK at all then its not very likely they would sue you. Its quite expensive to sue cross border even within the EU and their chances of recovery are not high against a consumer

If they have an office in the uk them they may but they will not sue for £20k probably. Costs would be high and they have to prove you knew there were copy right issues
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Just had a quick search on Google and it turns out that they do have offices in London.
I'm in 2 minds about whether to appeal. Part of me wants to because I'm fed of of getting ripped off. The other part tells me I don't have what it takes to fight my corner. What advice would you give me?
Its a case of how much risk you want to take

To be wholly honest, if it went to court I don't think a court would want to find against you in the su, of lost profits unless they were sure you knew

What the court would not want to do is allow you to keep a counterfeit watch so that would obviously be forfeit.

The only issue here though is that the stakes are fairly high but the chances are in your favour

I'm just going offline but I can pick up in the morning if you want to know anything else
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for your replies. So in summary, are you saying that the chance of me getting my watch back is low? If that is the case I may as well let them destroy it now :(
I am just in court at the moment and will get back to you as soon as possible.
Sorry about the delay.

They are not going to want to hand a counterfeit watch back whether you were scammed or not in practice.

But the chances of much else happening unless they can prove you were in on it are low.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks very much for all you help. If I'm not going to get my watch back then there would be no point proceeding just to prove a point.
Thanks again. :)
I think thats probably the right decision overall.

I do see its objectionable as you are the scammed person but its still a counterfeit item.