Cartier owner Richemont has today (6 July) won a landmark court case against five UK Internet Service Providers ISPs), including Sky and BT, to obtain orders requiring ISPs to block access to websites selling counterfeit goods online.
The decision follows an appeal by Sky, BT, EE, TalkTalk and Virgin Media who challenged a 2014 High Court ruling that can obtain such blocking orders.
With counterfeit websites a rising problem for luxury brands the ruling could pave the way for brands to tackle the issue in a way that is both trackable and cost efficient. In short, the process enables trademark owners to track changes and movements in counterfeit selling websites and respond to those movements by updating the ISP blocks.
According to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the EU Intellectual Property Office, international trade in counterfeit and pirated products reached a value of $461bn by 2013.
Simon Baggs, partner at law firm Wiggin IP Partner, who defended Richemont commented: "This case is about using technology to stop the activities of unlawful websites.
"The court has recognised that often the best way for online unlawful activity to be stopped is for intermediaries such as ISPs to cut the Internet lifeblood that the websites need to trade. Site blocking is a developing area in many jurisdictions globally and this judgment should further enable the growth of this important remedy”.
BT et al brought the case arguing that the court could not order site blocking, contending that the law in the UK did not specifically allow for this. However, the Court of Appeal disagreed and confirmed the High Court's decision, ruling that activities of the websites in issue and other online counterfeiters caused “significant damage” to Richemont and that blocking these sites would likely be highly effective.