The Federal Court of Australia recently awarded judgement for the national Regulator against Countrywide Marketing Pty Ltd, NHVR Pty Ltd (the companies) and their sole director, Timothy O’Keefe, for false, misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.
The judgement is the result of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) taking action to stop the activities of Countrywide Marketing, which was falsely purporting to sell advertising space in the NHVR Roadbook, the National Heavy Vehicle Roadbook and the National Heavy Vehicle Compliance Guide.
NHVR Chief Executive, Sal Petroccitto, said that since May 2014, the NHVR has issued regular warnings to industry that Countrywide Marketing does not represent the NHVR and the Regulator has never endorsed nor approved these publications.
"To avoid industry confusion, we asked Countrywide Marketing and its director, Mr Timothy O'Keefe, to cease using the business name 'NHVR' and words and images that may have implied a connection with the NHVR," said Mr Petroccitto.
"When it became clear our requests were being ignored, we took action," he said, referring to the NHVR’s application to the Federal Court in November 2014.
"We didn't want any member of industry to be misled into spending money on advertising in publications that were clearly being misrepresented."
As part of the judgement, the Federal Court granted an injunction permanently restraining the companies from:
- using the business name 'NHVR' or the company name 'NHVR Pty Ltd'
- representing themselves as having any approval or affiliation with the NHVR
- representing that operators are required to carry an NHVR Roadbook or NHVR Compliance Guide.
The Court ordered that the domain name 'nhvrgroup.com.au' be deregistered and that NHVR Pty Ltd change its name by 5 May 2015.
Neither the companies nor Timothy O'Keefe chose to defend the proceedings.
"I hope that this result will deter others from engaging in similar conduct designed to mislead or deceive heavy vehicle operators and other associated businesses," said Mr Petroccitto.
"If you are approached by anyone purporting to sell advertising space on behalf of the NHVR, and you are uncertain about a publication, contact us first and check whether there is any connection to the NHVR," he said.