Cliff jack sockets

UK electronics firm wins US court case over counterfeit products

A British company that makes professional-quality components and connectors for audio and other applications has won a long court case to protect its trademark and products sold in the USA from counterfeiting.

In 2008 Cliff Electronics (Cliff UK) discovered that a Cliff-branded product returned under complaint from an end user was not manufactured by an authorised Cliff company or in any Cliff production facility. Investigations found that the product had been cloned by a firm called Cliff Hong Kong and marketed by Cliff Electronic Components, Inc., which was at that time Cliff UK’s official distributor in the USA. This discovery rapidly led to a change to the manner of distribution and the formation of the current authorised USA distributor, Cliff Inc.

Further investigation showed that other cloned products that were being sold under the CLIFF brand name and uncovered the sources of manufacture. Counterfeit Cliff drawings were being used to give a false impression of the provenance and quality of the parts.

Several years of legal proceedings in the USA have now concluded with a judgment by the court in Topeka, Kansas, in the favour of Cliff Electronics on all points. The company will now be entitled to yet-to-be-determined levels of injunctive relief, damages and penalties from Cliff Electronic Components, Inc. (now trading as CHK Electronics), and its president, Andrew Brunt, whom the judge ruled is personally liable for all damages to Cliff UK.

Cliff is continuing to pursue all other companies and individuals involved.

Mr Brunt made the following statement to E&T:
“1. The US court has entered a temporary injunction which we will be complying with as ordered by the court. We will be appealing the injunction, however we cannot appeal until the court enters a final judgment, which may yet be some way off given that the Plaintiff's lawyer has yet to even provide a draft case management order.

“2. Cliff (Hong Kong) Ltd is the legally registered owner of the CLIFF trademark in Hong Kong. Cliff Electronic Components, Ltd. the UK firm that has been awarded the temporary order in the US lawsuit case, cannot sell their Cliff branded parts in Hong Kong because they do not have our permission to use it.

“3. CHK Electronics, Inc. does not and never has sold 'counterfeit' parts.”

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