Toiletries manufacturer PZ Cussons says its recent High Court battle to protect the supply of Imperial Leather soap should act as a clear warning to all parallel importers.

The company successfully sued Bradford-based Multibrands International for importing Imperial Leather soap made for the Indonesian market. The soap was sold through discount outlets and markets but Mr Justice Lloyd found Multibrands guilty of trademark infringement.

The parallel importing was ruled illegal because the company did not have Cussons’ consent to source the product from outside the EU.Cussons launched the action after being contacted by consumers who bought the soap and complained about its performance. A spokesman for Cussons said: “We hope this will serve as a clear warning to all parallel importers.”

A spokeswoman for Multibrands claimed the ruling was a “fiasco” and insisted the company had done nothing wrong. “The parallel trade has been a very grey area, with cases such as Levi against Tesco where the British courts ruled in favour of the free trader and then the European courts ruled in favour of the brand owners.”