Man who sold poppies despite no Royal British Legion link admits trademark offences

Poppies on display Credit: PA Images

A man who had been selling poppy brooches despited having no link to the Royal British Legion has admitted trademark offences.

Barry Downs, 64, was caught by trading standards officials selling the brooches for £2.99 each at Stanley Market in County Durham, in the lead-up to Remembrance Day last year.

He was found to have 287 poppy brooches on his stall and an additional 182 in his car parked beside it.

Some were Scottish poppies with four leaves, while others had two leaves, Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court was told.

Downs, of Coltspool, Gateshead, admitted seven offences under the Trademark Act.

Sarah Griggor, for Durham County Council, handed the bench examples of the brooches.

She said trading standards officials visited Stanley Market on November 2 last year after they received complaints.

They found a table laid out with brooches, many of them poppy-shaped, Ms Griggor said.

Downs told the officers he was not associated with the Royal British Legion and the items were seized.

In February he was interviewed under caution and told investigators he had been a market trader for many years, confirmed he was selling the poppies for profit and believed it was legal to sell them as they were widely available on the internet.

He said he bought some from a wholesaler in Manchester and had swapped others with an unknown man on the morning of the seizure.

Bill Davison, defending, told magistrates: "You are dealing with a man of good character who has been carrying on in business in Front Street, Stanley, for many years."

He said Downs did not make enough inquiries about the copyright on some of the items he was selling, but he was not involved in any kind of "national scam".

Mr Davison said Downs had receipts showing he bought brooches for £150 and was looking at making a profit of around £240 - a figure disputed by the magistrates.

None of the poppies had Royal British Legion markings on them, Mr Davison said, adding: "It is the shape of the poppies which is the breach of copyright.

"Yes it is an infringement, yes it is unfortunate that it is poppies in particular which is a worthwhile charitable fund, but this is a man who has not gone out of his way to commit these offences."

Bench chairman Aileen Little said the case warranted a community order and she stood the case down to allow for a probation report.