The market for toys is always massive all year round. Yes, there is a peak around Christmas time but the most popular toys, be they following current trends or fads or linking to a traditional toy that has always been popular, will always sell.
There are always birthdays going on and kids will always be spoiled by parents, family members and friends. All of this means that the toy market is huge and given the massive level of demand for this market, it makes sense that there will be unscrupulous people looking to make money from it.
This is not limited to the toy market, any market where there is a demand for affordable products; there will always be some form of supply, even if it is not always through the conventional and legal ways.
One toy wholesaler has lost a considerable volume of stock and has received a £22,000 fine after they were found to be selling counterfeit and unsafe toys. Some of the brands on offer include Justin Bieber toys and a wide range of Disney toys. There is always going to be a market for Disney toys but when it comes to toys, there is a need to make sure that everything is safe. It is fair to say that the price of some Disney toys will be higher than other toys on the market, but there are many aspects that go into this pricing. The brand name and identity has a lot to do with it, but Disney knows that they need to ensure that all of their toys are made in the best possible condition, which is why they need to ensure that all of their products are safe. This means that some of the pricing of a Disney toy is tied up in safety values. When counterfeit toys are able to undercut the official toys, there are a number of reasons why but it may be that skimping on quality control is one of the reasons.
Safety has to be paramount with kids toys
This case allowed the Ealing Council to carry out a POCA case against Toys Warehouse UK Ltd, based in the Charles House Business Centre. Amrik Singh Bhatia of the company was sentenced at the Crown Court in Harrow in February of 2015. Bhatia had already pleaded guilty to infringing on a number of trademarks and also to a number of “unsafe electrical goods offences”. These charges were brought him as an individual and also against him as a sole director.
The company was convicted on 5 separate counts of using a trademark without property authorisation while Bhatia was convicted of 4 counts of the same offence. This is in addition to 6 charges of possessing unsafe goods for supply being imposed on the company and the individual. Bhatia was sentenced to a 12 month community order, which means that he will be supervised for 12 months and he has to undertake 60 hours of unpaid work. The judge for the case said that carrying out a fine would not be a serious enough punishment for the crime that was committed.
Fines are one way of punishing firms that behave in this manner
The company was instructed to pay a £2,000 fine, £5,000 in court costs to the council as well as paying a victim’s surcharge. There has also been an order, under POCA, for Bhatia to pay £15,000 and a total of 428 toys and items were confiscated from the business premises.
The investigation, entitled Operation Swan, lasted three years and it was carried out by the Trading Standards team of Ealing Council. Officers from Brent and Harrow carried out checks into a number of major businesses in this local area and there was funding supplied from the National Trading Standards Board. This enabled the local officers to work with a number of national Trading Standards teams and other organisations such as the police and HMRC.
The Ealing cabinet member for Community Services and Safety said; “The sale and supply of unsafe and counterfeit goods is a serious offence, which is reflected in the severity of the sentence handed out in this case. I am delighted that the successful partnership work undertaken by trading standards officers has been justly rewarded with the achievement of the council’s first confiscation order for Operation Swan. I hope this sends a strong message to those who deliberately choose to flout the law, and endanger residents, that we are determined to tackle criminal activity in the borough.”
The scope of trading standards law and practice is a wide one and even if you think that there is no real harm being done, it may be that there is a level of criminality being undertaken.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn't sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.