This article has been removed, we would like to thank Wanis limited and Harbottle & Lewis for the information provided and the correction sent out by Brent Council please see Press Release PR5230 republished below.
Contrary to what was set out in the Council’s previous press release dated 10 April 2012, the Council accepts that Wanis Limited, Mr Wadhwani and Mr Shah were not convicted for manufacturing fake Pickapeppa sauce. The Council is happy to make this correction and apologises to Wanis Limited, Mr Wadhwani and Mr Shah for this error.
Sanjay Wadhwani and Vikas Shah, of Wanis Limited, were each convicted at Harrow Crown Court on 4 April 2012 of an unathorised use of a trademark contrary to section 92(1)(a) of the Trade Marks Act 1994. The particulars of the offence with which they were convicted were that between 9 October 2008 and 10 February 2010, were “without the consent of the proprietor of a registered trade mark, namely, the “Pickapeppa” word and device, and with a view to gain for themselves or another with intent to cause loss to another applied a sign identical to or likely to be mistaken for the said registered trade mark to goods, namely, bottles of pepper sauce.” Wanis Limited, Mr Wadhwani and Mr Shah commissioned the printing and application of trade mark labels to bottles of sauce with a risk of undermining the reputation of Pickapeppa and supplied the same to Tesco and ASDA. Wanis Limited and the individuals told the Court that they always believed that the sauce was genuine and that they had only relabelled the sauce to comply with UK labelling regulations.
The company based at Golden Business Park, Orient Way, Leyton was fined £10,000, ordered to pay £73,092 towards prosecution costs plus a further £22,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Director, Sanjay Tapkeshwar Wadhwani, aged 45, of Chester Gate, London NW1, was sentenced to 80 hours of unpaid work whilst IT manager Vikas Kantilal Shah, 34, of Dersingham Avenue, London E12 was ordered to undertake 60 hours of unpaid work.
During the hearing the court heard that the genuine Pickapeppa Sauce is made in Shooter’s Hill, Jamaica. The chilli sauce is prepared with ingredients which include herbs, spices and cane vinegar before it is cooked and left to age for a year in oak barrels. Its sweet flavour is nicknamed ‘Jamaican ketchup’ due to its versatile use.
Information relating to the sale of the illegal sauce came to Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Service’s attention following a complaint made to Pickapeppa in Jamaica by a consumer who had purchased an inferiour tasting bottle of the sauce that she had purchased from ASDA’s supermarket in Wembley.
As a result of the complaint, Trading Standards Officers test purchased samples of the counterfeit sauce costing £1.04 a bottle from two ASDA stores before returning to seize the rest of the stock. Enquiries made at Tesco also revealed that they too were supplying the same fake sauce and a further seizure was made.
Both supermarkets immediately withdrew the sauce from sale and identified their supplier as Wanis Limited, one of the country’s largest ethnic food and drink wholesalers who employ over 100 staff and a declared turnover of £45 million in 2009. Warrants were subsequently executed at Wanis’ business premises where Trading Standards Officers and a team of computer forensic experts, spent a day imaging the business’ vast network of computers.
E-mails showed Wanis obtaining quotes to have labels printed the same as the genuine Pickapeppa sauce whilst a food manufacturing company based in Wisbech, were given the labels to apply to similar brown bottles containing the sauce.
Further evidence was obtained from the computer records that led Trading Standards Officers to search a labelling agent’s premises in Devon where Wanis Limited has placed two orders for the printing of 50,000 Pickapeppa labels which were to be applied to the bottles of sauce.
A Public Food Analyst tested the illegal sauce who found no evidence that it was harmful to public health although it was identified that the fake produce was not as hot in flavour as the original.
During the hearing, the court heard that the defendant company had in the past stocked genuine Pickapeppa sauce. However, these supplies had been discontinued and the business was having difficulty finding a new supplier.
Wanis Limited made £22,000 from the sale of the illicit sauce which represented the value of the confiscation order made by HHJ Anderson under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Bill Bilon, Head of Consumer and Business Protection at Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, speaking after the case, said: “The sauce was of an inferiour quality though it looked the same. Had a suspicious ASDA customer not realised something was wrong and contacted the manufacturer in Jamaica, this may never have come to light.
“I hope that cases such as these demonstrate the important role that Trading Standards Officers play in protecting consumers. Not only have the company and the individuals ended up with criminal records, but the company also faces the prospect of having to pay the very high financial penalties that has been imposed by the court.”