07 September 2010


A story from the Metro, "Bargain shop slammed for shipping Polo mints across the world", in full

"A bargain shop has come in for a hole lot of criticism after shipping Polo mints from Indonesia – even though they are made in a factory just up the road.

Poundworld in York sells sweets produced 11,700km (7,300 miles) away, rather than ones from the Nestlé plant in the same city.

And the bizarre arrangement seems to work – allowing it to sell eight-roll multi-packs for £1, compared with most other stores’ price of about 49p per roll.

‘It’s part of the nonsense of the global economy,’ said Andy D’Agorne, leader of the city council’s Green Party group.

‘It’s cheaper on the basis of the current economic system that takes no account of the environmental impact.

‘If this was taken into account, [the mints] would be far more expensive.’

Poundworld said it sought ‘exceptional value for money’, which British-made products did not provide. It added the Polos came from a British wholesaler, so it was not involved in importing them.

NestlĂ© said: ‘Unfortunately, it is out of our control if retailers import items that were never designed for the UK.’

This story has also been reported by the BBC and local newspapers.

It is a curious story; firstly, Nestlé's comment; is it really out of their control? If these products were not produced by contractual agreement Nestlé would have a cause of action in passing off (or similar if the trademark is registered).

I don't believe that they're without Nestlé's control.

Is this the beginning of the end of polo production in York? Are we seeing controlled media demolition of the production facility in the UK?

Another aspect of the story is the lack of any explanation of parallel importing,

"A parallel import is a non-counterfeit product imported from another country without the permission of the intellectual property owner."

Note, 'of the intellectual property owner'; the importation of the Polos may not have the permission of Nestlé (although I doubt it); but some of the profit is still going back to them.

The story, illustrating the apparent lack of market control, illustrates how ordinarily, using IP law, markets are tightly controlled.

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