Richemont Group has successfully forced Britain’s largest Internet Service Providers to block access to websites selling counterfeit goods in London’s High Court.
The same tactic has already been successfully employed by film studios and record labels to prevent the distribution of pirated films and music.
The ruling against BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE will see customer access to seven websites that infringe Richemont trademarks, including Cartier, Montblanc, Van Cleef & Arpels and IWC blocked.
One of the websites, www.cartierlove2u.net, sold products clearly described as counterfeit such as a copy of Cartier’s Santos 100 watch for less than $200. Despite the successful ruling on Friday October 17, access to this particular website was still unrestricted.
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.
The ruling is now predicted to impact online counterfeit sales, with other companies expected to start seeking out contentious websites.