**UPDATE – Official Statement from Omix-ADA Below**
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show is the best place to score the latest aftermarket parts. Evidently, it’s also a great place to get busted for hawking fake products. U.S. Marshals busted six Chinese vendors for allegedly peddling knock-off Jeep parts, reports FourWheeler.
The world’s largest Jeep accessory manufacturer, Omix-Ada, spotted the so-called fake goods on display at this year’s show by Unity 4WD Accessories Company of Guangzhou, China.
Subpoenas were served to two Chinese company booths in the south hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center alleging multiple copyright and trademark violations of Omix-branded products. Fake bumpers, grilles, and electronics were seized.
Marshals also raided four other companies that were shut down at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX), according to Omix-Ada.
“This is something we were aware of (before SEMA) and we talked with SEMA about how do we go through the steps because we don’t want to upset the industry at an event like this,” said Henk Van Dongen, Omix-ADA’s Director of Marketing in a statement on the company’s blog.
The Suwanee, Georgia based company got a lawyer, gathered evidence and found a sympathetic judge.
“Normally they have a hearing and those companies would be served and then have to show up for another hearing – and if they don’t show up then we win, but the judge took one look at the paperwork and said there is no denying this,” Van Dongen added.
Automotive News spoke with Peter MacGillivray, VP of SEMA events, who told them if the companies whose displays were seized “are found at fault, they will not be coming back to SEMA.”
The raid took place on the second day of SEMA just as the doors were opened and caught the alleged counterfeiters by surprise.
“This is obviously about our product line and intellectual property because we need to protect our customers and retailers. But it’s not just about Omix and Rugged Ridge, it’s something that is industry-wide and something that has been building up and becoming more and more rampant over the past two to three years,” said Van Dongen.
Omix-ADA is moving forward with legal action against these six companies and they will be required to appear in U.S. court in three weeks for a hearing according to sources.
“We’ll have to see how far we can legally pursue the companies that we dealt with today and we’re going to be vigilant going forward,” Van Dongen said. “It’s slow going, we’re just getting started with this but you can see we are focused on it. It’s a little like playing whack a mole, and hopefully if we whack them one time too many, then they won’t be coming back.”
Photos courtesy of FourWheeler.
Official Statement from Omix-ADA
On Tuesday, November 2, the US Marshal’s office conducted a search and seizure of a variety of automotive aftermarket products as part of US District Court, Civil Complaint number 2:16-cv-02527-APG-CWH, due to claimed infringements of Omix-ADA®‘s patents and trademarks on products sold under the Rugged Ridge® brand. Based upon showing that it was likely to succeed on the merits of its claims for patent and trademark infringement, the district court granted Omix-ADA a restraining order against the certain parts suppliers that led to the search and seizure.
The seizures took place at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show and Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo(AAPEX), taking place this week in Las Vegas. Omix-ADA worked hand-in-hand with show management teams to follow clear guidelines designed to help combat infringing product at the show, which was enhanced with the court order. Counterfeit product and copyright infringement is in direct violation of SEMA and AAPEX policies and the managing parties have taken appropriate action to remove violating exhibitors from the premises.
As a dedicated exhibitor, Omix-ADA would like to thank SEMA and AAPEX management for their help and cooperation in working with the company to help protect its patent and trademark rights, as well as the aftermarket customers. Omix-ADA is also pursuing litigation with several companies selling infringing product at various online retailers.
The company views counterfeiting and infringement as a serious and widespread problem in the aftermarket industry and one that can be combated through proper legal channels, and would encourage other members of the aftermarket industry to follow a similar path.