MANILA – Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) seized more than 600 counterfeit premium car wheels worth PHP7 million in recent operations.
In a press statement on Friday, NBI Officer in Charge, Director Eric B. Distor, said the counterfeit Black Rhino wheels were seized by the NBI’s Special Action Unit (SAU) last October 23 following a letter-complaint from Nicolas & De Vega Law Offices against the owners, managers, sellers, and operators of car shops reported to be engaged in the sale or distribution of fake wheels bearing the Black Rhino marks and trade name.
In coordination with the local police, accompanied by the court sheriff, operatives of the NBI SAU and Anti-Fraud Division (AFD) served the search warrants in the presence of the business owners, their staff, and barangay representatives.
The wheels were identified in different areas in Manila, Makati City, Parañaque City, and Quezon City – the Annika Tire Center and its warehouse, Raf Tire Center, Empire Tire Center, ES Fargo Tire Center, and Fargo Tire Center, all in Manila; NCL Miller and RA Alawiya, both in Quezon City; Gomags Trading in Parañaque City; and Golance Tire Center and Wheelhaus Autocare and its warehouse in Makati City.
Seized in the operations were 638 pieces of counterfeit Black Rhino Wheels valued at about PHP7 million.
The raids conducted by the NBI were the first-ever in the world and business owners of Black Rhino would have traveled from the US to join the raids if not for travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
The SAU is preparing the documentation for the return of the search warrants to the issuing court and the filing of charges against the persons liable for the violation of Sections 155 (Trademark Infringement) and 168 (Unfair Competition) of Republic Act 8293 (Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines).
Last year, viral photos on the Internet showed a sports utility vehicle (SUV) in Surigao City that figured in a severe accident with fake Black Rhino wheels that cracked.
Genuine Black Rhino Wheels are manufactured by Just Wheels in California, the United States.
Wheel Gallery, a Philippine corporation, is the sole and exclusive distributor of Black Rhino Wheels in the country.
In February 2009, the Intellectual Property Office issued Just Wheels a Certificate of Registration for the Black Rhino Wheels trademark.
It was renewed in February 2019, valid for another 10 years until February 2029. Benjamin Pulta /PNA – northboundasia.com