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Thai Raids Net More Than 4,700 Counterfeit and Gray Market Columbia Sportswear Products
– May 28, 2009 – Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ: COLM) announced today that authorities in Thailand have confiscated more than 4,700 counterfeit Columbia products from four retail outlets and two related warehouses.
Starting with a tip from Columbia's Thai distributor, the raids followed several weeks of surveillance by private investigators hired by Columbia with cooperation from several local and regional Thai law enforcement agencies. One of the alleged leaders of the counterfeiting and smuggling operation was located and arrested near the Cambodian border and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of the owner of a chain of retail stores and warehouses that were used to distribute and market the counterfeit goods.
In a demonstration of solidarity against counterfeiting, Thailand's Deputy Minister of Commerce joined officials from the Department of Intellectual Property, Central Investigation Bureau and the Economic and Technological Crime Suppression Division (ETCSD) to announce the successful raids at a well-attended press conference in Bangkok Monday afternoon.
Columbia President and CEO Tim Boyle warned, “We take our brand and image very seriously and intend to take aggressive action to stop the unauthorized use of our name, designs and trademarks. Thanks to the effort and cooperation of numerous law enforcement agencies around the world, we are raising the profile of our anti-counterfeit programs. We believe it's a matter of principle and integrity to protect loyal Columbia customers from imposters.”
The raids and resulting arrests are the largest counterfeit bust to-date in Columbia's recently heightened campaign to reduce counterfeiting of its products and intellectual property. This year, Columbia Sportswear has expanded its on-going campaign to identify those who produce, transport, and/or sell counterfeit or grey market goods bearing Columbia's trademarks and to bring those people to justice.
Columbia has engaged teams of experienced investigators to cooperate with local, regional and national law enforcement agencies in following up on leads, but vigilance by Columbia's employees, customers and suppliers in reporting suspected counterfeits is also crucial to success of the stepped-up enforcement efforts.
According to the company, counterfeiting not only damages Columbia's brand, it injures consumers who buy products of inferior materials and construction that do not provide the level of protection from the elements (sun, rain, etc.) they have come to expect from authentic Columbia brand products.
Counterfeiting also damages the ability of authorized manufacturers, distributors and retailers to build successful businesses with well-paying jobs providing authentic, high-quality Columbia products. Finally, counterfeit goods indirectly support factories that engage in abusive labor practices, including the use of child and slave labor, unsafe working conditions, excessive work hours, underpayment of wages and poor environmental practices.
Boyle added, “As our brands become stronger and consumer demand for our products increases around the world, we will face increased counterfeiting activities. The cooperative relationships we are establishing across our supply chain will be increasingly important to support our efforts to safeguard the intellectual property that we work so hard to create.”
About Columbia Sportswear Company
Founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, Columbia Sportswear Company is a global leader in the design, sourcing, marketing and distribution of active outdoor apparel and footwear. As one of the largest outerwear manufacturers in the world and a leading seller of skiwear in the United States, the company has developed an international reputation for quality, performance, functionality and value. The company manages a portfolio of outdoor brands including Columbia Sportswear, Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, Montrail and Pacific Trail. To learn more about Columbia, please visit the company's website at www.columbia.com.