Internet Service Providers told to block access to counterfeit sites.
The High Court in London has ruled in favour of the Richemont Group’s fight against fakes by ordering Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block or impede access to websites selling counterfeit goods.
The first-of-its-kind ruling followed a court battle between Richemont and five of Britain’s largest ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE – who were being called upon to utilise privacy laws to take down seven websites selling products that infringe Richemont trademarks, including Cartier, Montblanc, Van Cleef & Arpels and IWC.
One of the websites, CariterLoveOnline.com, sold counterfeit versions of Cartier’s popular Love bracelet for less than $100. Following the successful ruling on Friday October 17, this website appears to have been taken down.
The argument against Richemont centred on the UK’s existing online piracy laws and the difference between copyright infringement, which they protect against, and trademark infringement, which they don’t.
However, the five ISPs were told they have a duty to block the sale of fake goods online and that courts can, and should, apply the same enforcement to trademark-infringing websites as they do copyright-infringing websites.
However, it has been deemed up to the trademark holder, in this case Richemont, to find and identify IP addresses selling counterfeit goods and then pass this information on to the ISPs.
According to the official High Court ruling by the Honourable Mr Justice Arnold, trademark infringement affects Richemont in four ways: “First, they may lose sales. Where goods are advertised as replicas and sold at a fraction of the price charged for the genuine articles, then it is unlikely that consumers will be deceived and hence that the trade mark owner will have lost a sale at that point…Secondly, counterfeit goods are almost always of lower quality than the genuine articles…
“Thirdly, where the genuine articles were luxury goods with a cachet that depends in part upon their expense, and hence exclusivity, this is eroded by the availability of cheaper replicas. Fourthly, the availability of counterfeit goods may have the effect of damaging the confidence of some consumers in the legitimate market for such goods.”
This ruling is now predicted to impact online counterfeit sales significantly, with other companies expected to start seeking out contentious websites and passing details on to Internet Service Providers.