Haverhill company wins four-year Chinese counterfeit battle

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A thriving Haverhill business is winning its battle against cheaper and illegal counterfeit products being sold on the internet.

Essential Nails, who serve thousands of beauty students around the world, have chased a Chinese copy of their core product off sites like Amazon and eBay.

Replicas of the nail trainer, which has revolutionised nail technician training around the globe, started to appear online at less than half of the retail price four years ago.

But after finally being granted a USA trademark, to go with their one in the European Union, the Manor Road-based company’s persistence has finally paid off.

Co-director John Grace said: “At first the counterfeit didn’t seem to affect us much.

“But over time it gained traction and we lost 60 per cent of our export business.

“Export is 40 per cent of our overall trade, so getting the counterfeit nail trainer off the world’s eBay and Amazon sites means students and nail companies are now coming back to us.

“It’s given our sales a big boost, enabling us to get back into developing new intelligent beauty products and undertake new projects, like the nail shop at our Manor Road premises.

“We’ve sold around 300,000 Nail Trainers in recent years.

“Many graduates continue to practice and learn new techniques once they’ve qualified, so perhaps 20 per cent, around 60,000 are in use at any one time.”

Essential Nails informed the likes of Amazon and eBay that they were selling an illegal counterfeit and requested them to remove the product.

In the EU, the marketplaces generally responded well and removed the adverts.

Although fresh ads appeared, Essential maintained the flow of counterfeit reports and the marketplaces were kept clear.

Their campaign to chase off the replica was going well – apart from in the USA.

Amazon refused to respect the company’s patent as their USA policy is to only remove counterfeit products where the patent owner has sued the merchant in the courts.

But after receiving their USA trademark, the company used it as extra ammunition in their fight with Amazon.

Within a couple of weeks of the USA presidential election, Amazon USA informed Essential Nails that they would be removing all adverts for the Chinese copy.

Mr Grace said: “This proves that if you dig your heels in and keep at it, these illegal counterfeits can be beaten.

“British manufacturers should take heart.”