• Kyodo

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A couple in Hyogo Prefecture were arrested Wednesday for allegedly selling fake “Ichiro-model” sunglasses on an Internet auction site, police said.

According to police, the couple are suspected of violating the trademark law by posting an advertisement on the auction site in September that said they were offering the same style of Oakley-brand sunglasses worn regularly by Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners.

Kenzo Takenaka and his wife, Yukako, both 40, allegedly earned about 13,000 yen by selling three pairs of sunglasses shortly after the advertisement went up, police said. Each pair was sold for between 3,000 yen and 6,000 yen.

The model worn regularly by Ichiro is usually sold for 40,000 yen to 50,000 yen, according to a Japanese firm representing the American sunglasses maker Oakley Inc.

According to investigators, the pair have admitted to the allegations, saying they turned to the sunglasses business after sales at their Korean-barbecue restaurant fell as a result of the scare triggered by the discovery of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, among domestic cows.

Police seized about 40,000 pairs of sunglasses from various places, including the couple’s home in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

They suspect Takenaka and his wife have earned at least 10 million yen from selling fake-brand sunglasses. On some days, the pair sold as many as 100 pairs, investigators said, adding that the fakes may have been purchased by Takenaka in Malaysia.

Takenaka’s bank account records showed about 2,900 deposits from across the country between March and October, amounting to about 15 million yen, police said.

Oakley sunglasses are worn by well-known athletes worldwide, including Japanese soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, who plays for Parma in the Italian Seria A. Marathon runner Naoko Takahashi was seen tossing her Oakley sunglasses away as she won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

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