Coffee war is brewing
The Australian - October 13, 2005
DISTRIBUTION firm Sheldon and Hammond yesterday rejected claims it was selling counterfeit Bodum coffee plungers, as alleged by the Danish company.
S&H said the Bodum design was not protected by a registered patent.
"No particular person or entity has a monopoly over this style of coffee plunger," S&H said in a statement issued through its lawyers Spruson & Ferguson.
"It is perfectly permissible to copy a product when that product is not protected by a registered design or patent."
S&H maintained that it "has not and does not sell counterfeit, fake or pirated Bodum products. S&H sells its products in packaging which clearly indicate its own brand, Avanti ... a well-known and established brand in Australia.
"S&H has imported and distributed its Avanti brand coffee plungers since 1994. In addition, there are many other traders in the Australian market selling coffee plungers in the same style for many years," it said.
Bodum, which claims to have introduced the coffee plunger to the world, is taking S&H and another leading distributor, Housewares International, to court for allegedly selling fake Bodum coffee plungers.
It is seeking a court order to prevent both companies from selling coffee plungers under S&Hs Avanti brand and Housewares Arcosteel and Bacarat brands, which it claims were counterfeit copies of Bodums Chambord range.
Housewares said it would be defending its position.
"The Bodum plunger has been our iconic design which has been in the market since the 1950s," Bodum managing director Thomas Perez said.
"We see design infringement as being as bad as stealing your car and we will do everything to stop it. We do not want to be undermined by cheap knock-offs," he said.
S&H said Bodum first made these counterfeit allegations about 10 years ago. "At that time S&H considered the claim had no merit and continues to maintain that position."
Bodum has appointed Mallesons Stephen Jaques to fight its case, which it expects to be heard in the Federal Court early next year.