Countrywide Marketing loses NHVR publishing case


Comprehensive finding in favour of national regulator includes costs

Countrywide Marketing loses NHVR publishing case
Sal Petroccitto says the regulator did not want anyone to be misled.

 

A publisher’s attempt to cash in on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and its powers has run into a Federal Court brick wall.

None months after being called out by NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto and four months after it emerged the issue be dealt with in a legal forum, Federal Court judge Andrew Greenwood has ruled against Countrywide Marketing, its sole director, Timothy O’Keefe, and NHVR Pty Ltd.

At issue was publication of National Heavy Vehicle Roadbook, National Heavy Vehicle Compliance Guide, and a CD on rules for heavy vehicle drivers in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law, and O’Keefe failed to defend the case.

"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," Petroccitto says.

"When it became clear our requests were being ignored, we took [legal] action.

"We didn’t want any member of industry to be misled into spending money on advertising in publications that were clearly being misrepresented."

Despite his past protestations that the operation was being mistakenly associated with the regulator, Greenwood found that Countrywide Marketing "made false and misleading or deceptive representations" that they were associated.

These included that the publications were part of an education program and that it would be necessary for all drivers of heavy vehicles in Australia to have them and carry them in their vehicles.

Greenwood ordered that NHVR Pty Ltd have its name changed, the domain name "nhvrgroup.com.au" be de-registered and all signage material be delivered up to the NHVR "on oath", by May 5.

Costs were awarded to the regulator.

"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," Petroccitto says.

"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." 

The full findings can be found here.

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