Today’s Opinion: Hooded shirt with the one and only real Hard Rock Café logo

POSTED: 03/18/11 2:04 PM

Counterfeit merchandise

The outrage of market vendors about legal action undertaken by Hard Rock Limited, the company that owns the Hard Rock Café brand, is up to a point understandable. Last week, the Hard Rock Café on the Boardwalk opened its doors for the public. The rock store underneath the café is now the only place authorized to sell Hard Rock Café merchandise.

When we visited the market yesterday afternoon, there was not a single counterfeit Hard Rock Café item in sight. The vendors say that they have stopped selling the brand, after inspectors confiscated a limited number of hats and caps in October of last year.

So indeed, why take these people to court now?

Hard Rock wants information about the supplier of the counterfeit merchandise. That is understandable, but is it necessary to drag market vendors into a courtroom for that purpose?

We doubt that very much, so here, the vendors have a point. If Hard Rock wants to know who is behind the counterfeit scheme, the company will have to do its own investigation.

That Hard Rock wants a ban on the sale of Hard Rock items by the market vendors is also understandable. Even the market vendors understand this – hence the complete disappearance of Hard Rock items in the stalls.

Hard Rock also wants the vendors to surrender all remaining counterfeits it has of its brand. We’d think that Hard Rock would have to prove first that the vendors have such merchandise in their possession before the company can make such a demand.

Do we then completely disagree with Hard Rock?

Not at all.

Because copyright infringements are simply a violation of the law, and we have the impression that the market vendors do not fully grasp this issue.

When we made the rounds of the market stalls yesterday there were no Hard Rock Café caps, hats or tee shirts in sight – that is true. Instead, the stalls are now supplied with Lacoste polo shirts – and there is a chance of approximately 100 percent that these are counterfeits as well.

Lacoste is a French company, established in 1993, that markets its products in high-end clothing stores, not in market stalls.

Because St. Maarten is in the big scheme of things a very small market, it is probably not worth Lacoste’s time and money to go after the local vendors.

But it remains a fact that by selling counterfeit goods, these vendors actually are guilty of fencing stolen goods. Lacoste will not lose a night’s sleep over what happens in St. Maarten; instead, the company y will most likely focus its efforts on fighting the producers of the counterfeit polo shirts. And those producers are mainly to be found in places like Thailand and China.

Subsequently, tourists who buy counterfeit clothing are also fencing stolen property, but action against consumers in this field is extremely rare.

On Valentine’s Day Dutch customs seized 120 boxes with counterfeit designer-clothing from Turkey. The shipment contained more than 4,000 items. In St. Maarten, there is therefore also a task for the customs department to check the arrival of counterfeits.

If anything, Hard Rock’s action against the market vendors will spark some debate about this issue and probably raise awareness about the ills of buying and selling counterfeit merchandise. We just bought a Hard Rock Café tee shirt at the Rock Store, more out of curiosity about the pricing of the real thing than anything else. It was all ours for a mere $24 – and the Rock Store is among the companies that does not add the turnover tax to the retail price.

Did you like this? Share it:
Today's Opinion: Hooded shirt with the one and only real Hard Rock Café logo by

Comments are closed.