Plantronics has reached an out-of-court settlement with Manchester firm Incom Telecoms relating to the sale of non-EU Plantronics kit containing counterfeit packaging.
Incom described the action, which has been going on for almost a year, as "a sorry affair" and said it chose to settle to avoid further distraction and cost to the business.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed by Plantronics, which released a statement about the case this morning.
"Plantronics has agreed an out-of-court settlement with Executive Telecommunications (UK) Limited, trading as Incom Telecommunications of Trafford Park, Manchester, in connection with claims relating to the sale of non-EU Plantronics products that had counterfeit packaging components," said the statement. "Details of the settlement remain confidential. Incom has co-operated with Plantronics in addressing these claims."
The case is one of many flagged up by Plantronics in recent months – last December, Plantronics brought proceedings against Manchester firm Digiphone and two of its directors, and in January, an out-of-court settlement was reached with James Products Limited in a similar case.
Incom director Steve Kelly told CRN he is "very, very disappointed" with the outcome and claims Plantronics did not approach the company prior to starting legal action.
"Why I think we feel very angry about this situation is firstly, we were never, ever notified of any practices they perceived to be wrong," he said. "We just received information from their lawyers and it took its legal form from there.
"To say it is disappointing is an understatement. We are, to all intents and purposes, a blue chip and corporate distributor, and since 1984 we have had an unblemished record of providing what we'd described as legitimate and bona fide products.
"Why did we settle? In the end we are a small business and Plantronics has very, very deep pockets. We had to weigh up the costs of going to court and defending [ourselves]. I feel we would have had a very strong case, and our legal team advised that. But the reality is that sometimes you've got to be commercially realistic. It would have gone on for a long time and it would have been damaging. We just took the view that the best way of handling the situation is to agree a compromise which clearly is very disappointing for the company. It has left a very, very bad taste. We can't now sell the brand.
"It's been a sorry affair. There's a difference between knowing what you're doing [illegally importing goods] and being an innocent bystander. We absolutely 100 per cent believe we are the latter. But do you take on these companies and have the distraction in the business?"
He said that Incom will carry out stringent checks when buying technology from within the channel in future.
"Where we buy from customers, resellers or distributors, we will ask them to put in writing that the product is legitimate EEA working," he said. "That's the mechanism we have put in to protect ourselves. If we go down this route again, we will say we carried out the relevant due diligence to sell your brand.
"We're just really, really disappointed with them. What Plantronics did was so underhand... We asked to meet them and to sit down with them. We've said 'will you sit down with us and point out what to look for?' If we're doing something wrong, tell us. But nothing – they were not interested. It was unfair and very heavy handed."
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