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Holly Star cleared of Hollister trademark infringement

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A Claremorris retailer accused of using a logo resembling the Hollister clothing trademark without permission on hoodies was acquitted following a trial in Castlebar.
Mohammad Mujahid of 4 Hill Crest, Mayfield, Claremorris, pleaded not guilty to fraudulently using the Hollister trademark on 4,051 of his own Holly Star-branded hoodies, which he intended to sell in his shop in Claremorris.
The hoodies, which were imported from Pakistan, were seized by gardaí on May 26, 2016, from Mr Mujahid’s Holly Star shop on The Square, Claremorris. Gardaí were informed of the suspected trademark infringements by customs officers who examined the goods when they arrived in a container in Dublin Port.
The trial which took place in Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court last week heard that the hoodies had Holly Star printed on the front and the inside label contained a logo which the prosecution said was identical to the Pacific Merchants and Hollister trademark.
Hollister is an American lifestyle brand owned by Abercrombie & Fitch, popular with teenagers. Hollister only has one outlet in Ireland, and its clothing is only sold in an official Hollister store or online.
Brendan Mallon, a commercial fraud investigator and director with IP Forensics Ireland Ltd, explained that he has acted for Abercrombie & Fitch for the last ten years and has been trained by them in examining their garments.
Mr Mallon explained he was contacted by Detective Sergeant Jim Carroll to examine the goods in Ballinrobe Garda Station, and he said they were not genuine Hollister garments. He said the label contained the trademark registered to Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch.
When asked by Mr Patrick Reynolds, counsel for the prosecution, if Mr Mujahid had permission to use it, Mr Mallon said that he did not and that nobody in Ireland has permission to use the trademark.
When the prosecution closed its case, Mr Simon Matthews, counsel for Mr Mujahid made an application to dismiss the charges on the grounds that it would be unsafe for the jury to give a verdict based on the evidence. As the genuine Hollister logo and trademark had not been shown to the jury, they could not give an informed judgement on the seized hoodies’ labels.
Mr Reynolds argued that Mr Mallon’s evidence that the logo on the label was a registered trademark of Abercrombie & Fitch should be enough.
However, Judge Rory McCabe agreed with Mr Matthews saying how could the jury determine if the logo was identical when they did not know what the real logo looked like. He said that on this basis he would not allow it to go to the jury, and said he would direct the jury to find Mr Mujahid not guilty by direction of the judge.
He further commented that if he brought the hoodies home to his children, he would ‘not be thanked’ as no one would be fooled into thinking they were genuine Abercrombie & Fitch items.

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