04 June 2009

RedBull Scam

NBI raid in Taytay, Rizal.
Unscrupulous traders, beware!

This was the stern warning of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), in a report by Hector Lawas of Journal Online, after they had uncovered a multimillion-peso scam linking a Taytay, Rizal distributing firm to the mislabeling and violation of the intellectual property code of popular energy drink Red Bull.

NBI agents swooped down on the warehouse of Maryland Distributors Inc. on Ortigas Avenue, Taytay, recently and seized Red Bull products with labels indicating these were brought into the country and marketed nationwide under questionable circumstances.

The seized products -- Red Bull Supreme energy drink -- bore the company name of exclusive distributor Energy Food and Drink and the expiry date of September 2010.

"How could this have happened without our knowledge unless some people used illegal means?" asked EFD lawyer Gary Lauron. Maybe investigation should also focus on people working inside EFD who may have inadvertently provided relevant information to the suspects.

The lawyer explained that only EFD is authorized to import and distribute Red Bull in the Philippines. "Only EFD has permit from the Bureau of Food and Drugs to import Red Bull. As per our records, the products we have imported and marketed so far carry our company name and the expiry date of December 2009," he added.

"So where did the Red Bull Supreme energy drink products with our company name and the expiry date of September 2010 come from? How did these products get into the country without our knowledge and without any entry record at the Bureau of Customs (BOC)? According to our source, no less than 10 container vans of the product had been brought in and marketed nationwide," said Lauron. How about asking this question to the management of BOC, and maybe, just maybe some of them will be honest enough to admit that there are rotten eggs within their ranks that made this evil deed possible.

Each container van carries Red Bull products worth PhP 1.5 million, according to the EFD lawyer.

The EFD has filed a formal complaint with the BFAD and the NBI-Intellectual Property Rights Division against the people behind the Red Bull scam.

Further investigation showed that mislabeled Red Bull Supreme Energy Drink products bearing the September 2010 expiry date had been distributed and marketed in Metro Manila, Cavite, Davao, Bicol, Pangasinan, Zamboanga and other parts of the country, including various supermarkets, drugstores and convenience store chains.

Section 168.2 of the Intellectual Property Code Republic Act No. 8293 defines unfair competition as “any person who shall employ deception or any other means contrary to good faith by which he shall pass off the goods manufactured by him or which he deals or his business, or services for those of the one having established such goodwill, or who shall commit any acts calculated to produce said result, shall be guilty of unfair competition and shall be subject to an action therefore.

On the other hand, Republic Act. No. 3720 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act states that "a food shall be deemed to be misbranded if its labeling is false or misleading in particular."