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Man sentenced for selling counterfeit airbags

  • A man has been sentenced for selling fake airbags, following a City of London Police investigation.
  • The airbags and covers had not been produced to any recognised safety standard and were potentially lethal.
Today, 22 February 2018, Robert Czernik, 35, of Blackbird Close, Poole, Dorset was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court to two counts under Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act for selling fake airbags. He received five months in prison for each count to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months. He will also have to carry out 135 hours of unpaid work. He pleaded guilty to this offence on Monday 19 February 2018 at Inner London Crown Court.
 
In a report from Honda it was confirmed that the airbags sold by Czernik had not been produced to any recognised safety standard and might not activate correctly in a collision, therefore potentially causing serious or life threatening injuries. 
 
Czernik was arrested on 18 February 2016 in Blandford Forum, Dorset and a search carried out at his home. Over 190 airbag covers and a variety of airbag parts were seized, including mechanical springs and counterfeit airbag assemblies bearing the names of major brands. Detailed analysis by Honda confirmed that the airbags sold by Czernik were counterfeit. As a result, Czernik was charged on 16 February 2017 for selling goods likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark under the Trade Marks Act.
 
Not only were potentially dangerous counterfeit airbags sold, but other airbag covers deemed not fit for sale by the manufacturer were believed to have entered the supply chain.
 
A total of 28 brands, including Honda, Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Audi and Skoda have been identified by detectives as being affected and 680 people have been notified and advised to contact their car manufacturer to ensure their airbag is safe. 
 
Czernik purchased airbag parts from suppliers in China and Poland and using his online account under the username eu_trading, sold them to customers.

A confiscation hearing will take place at a later date.

Officer in charge of the case Detective Constable Ceri Hunt, of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said: 
 
“Czernik has put drivers at risk of serious injury and death by selling counterfeit airbags and covers. We have worked tirelessly for more than two years to ensure the successful prosecution of Czernik. 
 
“In partnership with Honda and the Intellectual Property Office, and with the support of other car manufacturers, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has made sure that Czernik can no longer sell dangerous car parts. This investigation sends a strong message to anyone selling dangerous counterfeit goods that that they too could end up in Czernik’s position. 
 
“The dangers of buying counterfeit goods should not be underestimated. With potentially shocking implications for public safety, it’s vital that you are extra careful and check where you are buying goods from.”

Managing Director of Honda Motor Europe’s UK subsidiary, Dave Hodgetts, said: 
 
“The safety of customers is of paramount importance, and we aim to eliminate counterfeiting.
 
“We strongly recommend any modification to the airbag systems of our cars be undertaken by a trained technician in an official dealership. If customers are concerned, they should visit their local dealership.”
 
Ros Lynch Director of Copyright and Enforcement and the Intellectual Property Office said:
 
“I am proud of the IPO's role in bringing this man to justice. Selling fake items designed to stop fatal injuries is particularly deplorable.
 
"The hard work of our partners in law enforcement, and the ongoing collaboration of the private sector in seeking out and stopping the sale of illicit goods, is vital. 
 
"The UK has one of the best IP enforcement regimes in the world and will continue to pursue opportunistic criminals that seek out profit at the expense of consumer.”
 
Stephen Rowland of the Specialist Fraud Division at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: 
 
“This defendant was selling highly dangerous items online using brand names customers felt they could trust, therefore putting ordinary members of the public at risk of serious injury or death.  
 
“Czernik claimed that he thought the items he was selling were genuine but evidence put forward by the CPS showed that he had been buying the items from online selling sites in China.”

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