GuildMaster Reaches Plea Agreement with Federal Government
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-GuildMaster has pleaded guilty in federal court to importing thousands of lamps from its manufacturer in China bearing false Underwriters Laboratory (UL) stickers. In doing so, GuildMaster, a manufacturer and importer of furniture, lighting, accessories and wall art, accepts responsibility for the actions of the employees of a Chinese company acquired by a GuildMaster trading company, GuildMaster said in a statement.
The agreement was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
"This prosecution sends the important message that companies importing goods from overseas may not gain a competitive advantage over those that play by the rules, by cutting corners when it comes to safety or intellectual property rights," said Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
GuildMaster agreed to surrender its interest in some 5,150 lamps that bore the false sticker--which the government valued at approximately $1,831,918--in exchange for a period of unsupervised probation and no further penalties. The U. S. Customs and Border Protection did apply the full amount of the $43,786 in cost bonds previously posted by GuildMaster to defray the government's expenses in storing the lamps.
None of GuildMaster's U.S.-based employees, officers or directors were accused or charged with any offense.
"The stickers were applied by the employees of Yangming, a China lamp manufacturer which was purchased by our Hong Kong trading company two months prior to the seizures. It was important to us that we take responsibility for their actions and we are pleased to bring this matter to a close," said Steve Crowder, CEO, GuildMaster.
As previously reported, the company was charged in December 2012 in connection with several December 2011 shipments of lamps bearing a removable, unlicensed sticker indicating a UL trademark.
The lamps were manufactured by Dongguan Yangming Hardware Crafts Limited, a lamp factory purchased by GuildMaster in October 2011. The agreement reached today acknowledges that the stickers were applied without the knowledge or approval of GuildMaster's U.S. management team, GuildMaster said in a statement.
"GuildMaster is going to continue to operate with total integrity and transparency as we focus our full attention on creating new products for the upcoming markets," Crowder noted. "This resolution allows us to get back to what we do best: Serving our customers and ensuring the highest quality home furnishings on the market."