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Aquarium firm wins legal battle

PUBLISHED: 13:13 27 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:49 01 July 2010

Anthony Carroll

A successful Norfolk firm behind a pioneering range of aquariums has won a legal copyright battle against Chinese counterfeiters.

Reef One, which is based at Horsham St Faith, became involved in a legal wrangle over its state of the art BiOrb Life fish tanks after it suspected a Chinese company might exhibit some illegally in Germany.

A successful Norfolk firm behind a pioneering range of aquariums has won a legal copyright battle against Chinese counterfeiters.

Reef One, which is based at Horsham St Faith, became involved in a legal wrangle over its state of the art BiOrb Life fish tanks after it suspected a Chinese company might exhibit some illegally in Germany.

The Far East manufacturer Himat went on to display copies of the Biorb tanks at a pet suppliers exhibition in Nuremburg.

Because Himat did not have permission to sell the fish tanks in Europe, Reef One called in German lawyers to make sure the counterfeit goods were seized and then destroyed.

Following the destruction of the tanks, Reef One issued a stern warning that it would not tolerate any company trying to rip off its successful range of tanks.

Himat had been warned that it could not try and sell the goods in Europe after talks broke down between Reef One over setting up a working arrangement to market them worldwide.

However Reef One's owner Paul Stevenson, who formed the company 11 years ago with his son Matt, suspected the Chinese company would ignore the warning and sought an injunction against them exhibiting the tanks at the Interzoo international trade show.

As soon as Himat displayed the counterfeit goods German lawyers and bailiffs moved in to seize and destroy them.

The fish tanks were counterfeit as Himat only has a patent to manufacture and sell copies in its homeland - meaning it is illegal for it to import and sell them in Europe.

Mr Stevenson said: “The tanks were taken away for storage and destruction and there were many loud cheers from other exhibitors that we had done this because they recognise the importance of protecting intellectual property.

“Reef One will use the full extent of counterfeit and piracy legislation to make sure fake products are seized and destroyed.

“It is important for manufacturers and designers to defend the products they have spent so long developing and refining.

“A great product will always inspire inferior copies and the lower cost can tempt suppliers to stock them.

“Have no doubt where we find an infringement of our copyright we will enforce it vigorously.”

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