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Cartier stresses trademark dispute is to 'protect customers' not 'restrict' freedom of speech

Richemont’s, which owns luxury brand Cartier, has stressed that its legal challenge to internet service providers (ISPs) to block websites using its trademarks is not to "restrict freedom of speech" but about "protecting customers".

Cartier took court action last week to demand that ISPs - BSkyB, BT, EE, TalkTalk and VirginMedia - stop customers accessing pages where its trademark was being used to sell counterfeit versions of its watches and jewellery.

A spokesperson for company told The Drum: "This action is about protecting Richemont’s Maisons and its customers from the sale of counterfeit goods online through the most efficient means, it is not about restricting freedom of speech or legitimate activity."

Responding to criticism from the ISPs' lawyers, made in court, that this could lead to sites that were using the company’s logo for legitimate customers, being penalised, the spokesperson said: “Richemont has had to develop a multi-mechanism enforcement strategy to deal effectively with the significant threat and damage to its business caused by online counterfeiters and pirated goods.

"As a result, there is no one solution that meets our existing requirement and Richemont firmly believes that preventing access to the website by Internet users at the point of access - for example through ISP blocking - is one of the most effective remedies.”

Lawyers for BSkyB, BT, EE, TalkTalk and VirginMedia opposed the legal move arguing that the luxury brand was trying to "invent a new duty," for service providers that "went against the principle of English law".

However, the Cartier parent company responded: “Richemont has a long and demonstrable track record of working in partnership with responsible intermediaries to promote a secure, stable and trusted Internet. This action is part of Richemont’s wider digital strategy to deal effectively with the significant threat and damage caused by the abundance of counterfeit goods being made available to consumers.”

A decision on the case, which is being considered by Mr Justice Arnold, is expected in the next two weeks.

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