Chinese owners told ‘ignorance’ on language issue not an excuse

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, says a senior magistrate when hearing from a lawyer representing eight Chinese nationals charged with counterfeit trademarks for top sports gear.

The shop owners of the Erima outlet in Port Moresby returned to the Waigani Committal Court today (September 22) where their lawyer Roy Mulina presented submissions before the court.

The shop owners, seven men and one woman from Fujian province in China are facing charges of printing and selling PNG Rugby Football League, Kumuls and Hunters counterfeit trademark logo jerseys.

Mulina told the court that police did not prove in their investigations that there is proof of ownership of the trademark his clients used in the items they sold.

He said there were no records of certificate of registration of who owned the trademark logos that were used.

Mulina also told the court that two of the accused’s work permits have expired and one more will have his expire next month.

He said the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had knowledge of producing counterfeit trademarks.

He said no record of interview was done by police due to the language barrier as there was no translator available at the time.

The eight accused people speak the Mandarin dialect and understand very little English and Tok Pisin.

 Mulina said advertisements placed in the newspapers about the trademark of the PNGRFL, the Kumul and Hunters logos were not understood by the accused.

Magistrate Bidar said the fact that the eight Chinese understand little English was an ignorance of the law and was not an excuse if they didn’t understand English and Tok Pisin when they were in the country.

It was found that the shop owners on the 7th of April were caught selling jerseys and polo shirts containing the PNG Rugby Football League, Kumuls and Hunters trade mark logos.

This saw a total of 10, 244 printed jerseys and polo shirts confiscated by police when they arrested the owners of Erimart blocks A and B.

It is an act that is prohibited under section 447 of the Criminal Code of Papua New Guinea.

A ruling on the case is expected at the end of October.

Sally Pokiton