ACCC accuses Topfield of resale price maintenance

Digital Products Group Pty Limited, the Australian distributor of Topfield branded set-top boxes and personal video recorders has been accused of resale price maintenance by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

This is the second time the ACCC has accused a set top box distributor of resale price maintenance in the last two years after Humax was successfully prosecuted in June 2005.

“The ACCC has alleged that Digital Products Group contravened section 48 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 by attempting to induce and inducing a certain retailer not to advertise certain Topfield digital set-top boxes below their respective recommended retail prices. The allegations cover the period from October 2003 to June 2005,” said a statement made by the ACCC today.

“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted legal proceedings in the Federal Court, Melbourne, against Digital Products Group Pty Limited.

“The ACCC has also instituted proceedings against Mr Jai Kemp, the sole director of Digital Products Group, and Mr Mark Dopson, the National Sales Manager of the company. The ACCC alleges that Mr Kemp and Mr Dopson were knowingly concerned in and party to certain alleged contraventions by Digital Products Group.”

Topfield Australia has just released the eagerly-anticipated TF6000PVRt PVR – the world’s first WLAN digital TV PVR – which will hit retail shelves at RRP $1249.

In an exclusive interview today, Kemp told Current.com.au:  “We made a bit of a boo boo, so we are working with the company involved to try to sort it out. I’ll have to talk to our lawyer about that so we’d have to see what he says…  It was back in 2003, which was donkey’s years ago, and we were young and naïve.”

Kemp was unable to reveal the retail shop/group involved.

In June 2005, Justice Merkel of the Federal Court, Melbourne, ordered $150,000 in penalties against Humax Pty Ltd and $7,500 against Humax director, Andrew Song, who admitted to be knowingly concerned in attempting to induce retailers of the Humax high-definition set-top box not to sell those goods at a price less than the recommended retail price of $599.

The court also ordered injunctions preventing Humax to engage in similar conduct for a period of three years, and Humax agreed to establish a trade practices compliance program for its staff.

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