Landmark decision follows complaint by Cartier and Montblanc owner Richemont
The UK High Court has ordered the country’s top internet service providers (ISPs) to do more in the fight against the sale of counterfeit goods. Sky, TalkTalk, BT, Virgin Media, EE and O2 have been instructed to block several websites seen to be selling knock-off versions of luxury items such as handbags and watches. The decision follows a complaint by luxury goods manufacturer Richemont, which owns the rights behind several major brands including Cartier and Montblanc, which argued that the sites were infringing on its trademarks by selling counterfeit products.
The ruling is the first instance where a company has demanded sites be blocked over the use of trademarks, rather than over copyright infringements. “We are pleased by this judgement and welcome the Court’s recognition that there is a public interest in preventing trade mark infringement, particularly where counterfeit goods are involved,” said a Richemont spokesperson. “The Courts had already granted orders requiring ISPs to block sites for infringement of copyright in relation to pirated content. This decision is a logical extension of that principle to trade marks.” The affected sites are cartierloveonline.com, hotcartierwatch.com, iwcwatchtop.com, replicawatchesiwc.com, 1iwc.com, montblancpensonlineuk.com and ukmontblancoutlet.co.uk, but Richemont says it won’t hesitate to prosecute more sites in the future.
Wiggin LLP, the law firm at the heart of the ruling, added: “In a comprehensive judgement, the court has considered the enforcement methods that are presently available to trade mark owners when tackling infringement online. “The court has concluded that internet service providers play ‘an essential role’ and that the court can and should apply Article 11 of the Enforcement Directive to require the application of technical measures to impede infringement of trademarks.”
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