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Windscreen battle intensifies

Post Time:Dec 20,2012Classify:Industry NewsView:502

THE PG Group will not back down from a competitor it claims has risked the lives of motorists by producing cheap, Chinese- made windscreens.


Earlier this month, the Johannesburg High Court ordered PG Group to stop disparaging its competitor, Grandmark International, pending a trial.


Grandmark had approached the court for urgent relief in May after PG Group reportedly publicly described its windscreens as "Chinese imported glass" that was inferior, unsafe and of poor quality.


Although the respective parties' rights will ultimately be determined at trial, Grandmark was seeking urgent interim relief.


The company imports, distributes and sells vehicle parts, including windscreens, under its trade name, Grandmark Glass.


It competes with PG Group which distributes and sells windscreens, but under the trade name Shatterprufe. PG manufactures 95% of its windscreens in South Africa.


The matter was argued in the high court last month.


Grandmark claimed PG Group wrote letters to insurance companies accusing it of using recycled vinyl on a good percentage of its windscreens. A letter to one insurance company reportedly stated that recycled vinyl was very dangerous and it was like playing Russian roulette with people's lives.


PG Group was also alleged to have arranged roadshows where "untruths" were told about Grandmark.


In its responding affidavit, PG argued that what it had stated in the letters was the truth.


It said Grandmark's windscreens were inferior, unsafe and dangerous. It said people travelling in vehicles fitted with Grandmark's windscreens were risking their lives.


Earlier this month, Judge Moroa Tsoka ruled that PG's contention was based solely on its own inference and was unsupported by facts. He said PG Group was afraid of competition.


"Its motive is glaringly obvious. Realising that Grandmark is making its mark in the insured market, [PG] embarked on its unlawful activities," Judge Tsoka said.


"Its conduct is anti-competitive and unconstitutional."


He accordingly interdicted PG from disparaging Grandmark pending the outcome of trial.


Yesterday, PG Group chief executive Stewart Jennings said because the interdict was only interim, it was not appealable.


"It is in the public interest that this matter be resolved on an urgent basis," he said.


Jennings is also chairman of the Manufacturing Circle, which represents some of SA's largest manufacturers and has been lobbying the government to adopt measures to slow down the influx of Chinese imports.


He said while PG was not in agreement with the judgment and particular comments made by the court, it respected the authority of the court and would abide by the ruling pending the outcome of the trial.


"The court, however, erred in its ruling on aspects of constitutionality and anti-competitive behaviour as neither of these issues were canvassed in the parties' papers or by their respective counsel. PG's intention has never been to limit competition, but rather to safeguard that the quality and safety standards in the market are maintained.


"The interim interdict and the comments made in the judgment are subject to being overturned at the trial," Jennings said.


In response to the judgment, Grandmark Glass told Business Day Live that while it was clearly a favourable ruling for the company, it was also a great win for South African consumers.


Grandmark Glass MD Ian Pluke said PG Group clearly did not want any competition

Source: www.glassbytes.comAuthor: shangyi

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