The Malta Independent 25 August 2019, Sunday

Collector conditionally discharged after accusations of copyright infringement

Thursday, 21 January 2016, 12:43 Last update: about 5 years ago

A 41-year-old woman has been handed down a 6-month conditional discharge after being found guilty of infringing copyright laws.

The judgment has been confirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeal. Victoria Vassallo was selling doll sets on the internet.

Victoria Vassallo had no fewer than 8 charges brought against her. Ms Vassallo was convicted of a total of six charges, mainly copyright infringement as it was claimed that the trademark she used could be confused with the registered trademark.

The Attorney General appealed this sentence, and requested the Courts to find Ms Vassallo guilty of a number of other charges.

The case began in 2009, following a complaint made ​​by Brandstatter Group, the company that manages Playmobil. The company drew the attention of the authorities to the fact that she was selling doll sets on ebay, some of which were owned by Playmobil.

The company had claimed that Ms Vassallo sold these Playmobil dolls, as part of a set, and at the same time changed the product without the required approval.

Ms Vassallo said in court that she is a collector of Playmobil dolls, which she has been doing for 30 years. She said that she was obsessed with the dolls. During a sitting, while Ms Vassallo was testifying, she presented a doll set as part of her evidence. The toy set displayed a law court, a magistrate, a deputy registrar, the prosecution, police and attorneys.

The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Judge Edwina Grima said that Ms Vassallo offered Playmobil products for sale as part of a larger set.

It also held that the Ms Vassallo did not sell any product, label, or mark that is identical to the registered mark. The reason provided was that although some of the products bore the Playmobil brand, the dolls were being sold differently to how the company produces them.

At the same time, the courts held the Ms Vassallo failed to indicate to the consumer that she was not representing the company while selling the dolls, and therefore had no connection with the company.

After making all necessary considerations, the Courts dismissed the appeal and confirmed the judgement of the Court of First Instance.

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