ISPs reject Cartier's trademark site-blocking challenge

Cartier shop in London's Bond Street

Internet service providers (ISPs) have rejected Cartier's legal bid that they block access to websites which the luxury brand has claimed abuse its trademarks.

The brand has issued a High Court injunction demanding that ISPs block websites allegedly using its trademarked logo for counterfeiting activity, with the trial taking place at London's Royal Courts of Justice.

The ISPs have argued that blocking all access is an extreme remedy and could lead to websites which use the Cartier trademark for legitimate reasons, such as customer feedback or unwelcome parody, being stopped from functioning.

Counsel for the ISPs told the court today that they rejected the notion that they had to block public access to sites when Cartier had other legal avenues to follow and accused the luxury brand of trying to "invent a new duty" on service providers that "went against the principle of English law".

They also pointed out that customers who visited the site were not breaking any law and that even purchasing counterfeit goods online was not a criminal offense as long as they were intended for personal use.

The ISPs also contended that their role in the process of purchasing copies of pirated versions of Cartier's products was only a small part of the transaction as the goods would still have to be transported to the customer.

The presiding judge, Mr Justice Arnold quipped: "Just wait until 3D printing spreads then we will have that to deal with," to which defence counsel replied "something to look forward to".

However, lawyers for the luxury jeweller pointed out that the ISPs allowing access to the offending websites was a "necessary part of the process," and if there was no access the trade would cease.

The case is the first in English law to argue that sites should be blocked for using trademarks as previously these were considered as only "part of a work" and therefore not subject to the full range of copyright law.

The trial continues.

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