By Sarah Falson
MELBOURNE: Topfield today sent a statement to the media announcing the company’s compliance with the ACCC during recent price-fixing allegations, in an attempt to alleviate its sullied reputation.
Parent company, Digital Products Group Pty Limited and set-top box manufacturer, Topfield, and two of its staff, were yesterday ordered to pay a fine of $297,500 plus court costs for 11 counts of resale price maintenance, and was also instructed to implement a trade practices compliance program within the company.
Digital Products Group and Topfield director and manager, Jai Kemp, today informed the press that his company received 30 per cent off the original fine because his “cooperation was recognised by the ACCC.”
In a submission to the court, the ACCC said: “The Respondents have cooperated significantly with the Commission and acknowledged their liability at the earliest stage in the proceeding… This has shortened the investigation, the proceeding and the trial, consequentially saved costs and enabled the Commission to focus on other investigations and proceedings.”
Kemp implored in his statement today: “As soon as we were made aware of the ACCC investigations in February this year we sought expert advice and immediately began a program of TPA awareness for all of our staff.
“Like many other small Australian businesses, I was simply unaware that we had breached the Trade Practices Act.
Kemp says resale price-fixing was not something he researched when setting up his company on 2003.
“When I started our wholesale and distribution side of the business in mid 2003 I was more worried about getting letter heads printed and making sure I paid the electricity bill on time. Not having a degree in business or a legal background I had no idea what resale price maintenance was – the information was not readily available in a form that was easily understood.”
Kemp warned other businesses about the risks associated with breaching the Trade Practices Act.
“It’s really important to make sure you understand the Act. We thought we were doing the right thing. It turns out that we weren’t – and for that we apologise."
According to Kemp, the company will now focus on the year ahead and the launch of its high definition PVR.
“Even though it has only been a short time since we received the court’s ruling, we would like to move on and put this behind us.
"We look forward to another exciting year of growth in 2007, kicking off next week with the release of our long awaited Topfield High Definition Personal Video Recorder,” he said.