Channel stoush erupts over Hyundai PCs

Distributor Natcomp has rebuked claims by Hyundai MultiCAV Australia that Hyundai products currently for sale in Australia are counterfeit and sub-standard (see ARN, June 26, p4) and has produced documentation he says backs up his position.

According to Fabio Grassia, managing director of Natcomp, the Sydney-based company has been distributing Hyundai-branded PCs in Australia since 1996. He said these PCs are ordered directly from the Hyundai Corporation in Seoul, South Korea, before being imported to Australia and distributed to his customers all over the country.

Hyundai MultiCAV Australia is the local affiliate of a Korean-listed company of the same name that was spun off from Hynix Semiconductor (formerly Hyundai Electronics Industries) in March 1998 and floated in November the same year. The company claimed last month it would be launching the first genuine Hyundai PCs in Australia in August. Last week, Grassia strongly refuted this assertion.

"I buy the [Hyundai] PCs direct from the Hyundai Corporation in Korea and I pay the invoices to the Hyundai Corporation in Korea," Grassia said.

"We have been dealing with [Hyundai] since we first started selling the brand. I am not supplying counterfeit product. I am not committing any fraud. I am a legitimate supplier of Hyundai PCs."

Grassia was able to back up his claims with purchase orders to and invoices from Hyundai which were sighted by ARN. "The bottom line is that if they have exclusive rights to the brand in Australia, then why am I being supplied directly from the Hyundai Corporation in Korea," he said.

"The proof is in the paperwork. If there is an issue then [Hyundai MultiCAV Australia] needs to take it up with Hyundai."

Hyundai MultiCAV Australia's CEO, Aron Jackson insists there are issues with the products Natcomp is bringing into the country.

"What Natcomp is telling you is absolute waffle," Jackson said. "We have been told by Hyundai Trading Corporation that they are not selling to [Natcomp]. The trading company does not have the authority to sell Hyundai-branded PCs to anyone.

"They can source and trade boxes, but they can't sell Hyundai-branded PCs. We own the trademark in Australia and he has no right to use it."

While researching this story, ARN received a letter from A.J. Law & Co, solicitors representing Hyundai MultiCAV.

Alex Law from A.J. Law also phoned to say that he was attempting to decipher the "complex" company structure that falls within the Hyundai "family" of companies. It appears to him that Natcomp is indeed sourcing Hyundai product from a Hyundai company, but could be breaching local Copyright and Trade Practices Acts in doing so.

A Hyundai MultiCAV spokesperson said: "Hyundai MultiCAV Australia asserts it has the sole rights to distribute Hyundai-badged PCs in Australia and New Zealand. [The company] is looking to assert its legal rights to prevent others from claiming the same right."

* For the full story, see this week's issue of ARN. Out now.

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