National Jeweler Network

Public Policy & Issues

Richemont wants ISPs to help in counterfeit fight

By Michelle Graff

June 04, 2014

London--In what is being called a landmark case, Richemont is taking broadband Internet service providers to high court in Great Britain, ordering them to block websites that sell counterfeit watches and jewelry.  

British daily The Guardian reported that Richemont wants five of Britain’s largest ISPs providers--BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE--to utilize existing piracy laws to take down a total of seven websites that sell products that infringe upon Richemont trademarks. 

Opponents of Richemont’s move, however, argue that the existing piracy laws, which police sites offering illegal downloads of music and movies, were designed for copyright infringement not trademark infringement. The two are different activities, they say, and more legal debate is needed before applying the rules to trademark-infringing sites. 

Geneva-based Richemont owns Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels as well as a number of high-end watch brands, including Panerai, A. Lange & Söhne and Jaeger-LeCoultre. 

A website called CartierLoveOnline.com, which sells knockoffs of Cartier’s popular Love bracelet for less than $100, is one of the sites Richemont wants taken down, according to The Guardian. The names of the other websites were not disclosed to the newspaper. 

The online sale of jewelry and watches that violate trademarks is an ongoing issue for brand owners such as Richemont, and those with the money to wage lengthy legal battles have not hesitated to take websites that sell allegedly infringing merchandise to court. 

RELATED CONTENT: Brands win injunction in cyber counterfeiting case

This past October, Richemont won a permanent injunction and summary judgment in federal court in the United States against Saudi Arabia-based Sawabeh Information Services Co. (SISCOM) and Pakistan-based TradeKey (Pvt.) Ltd. 

The ruling effectively barred websites owned by SISCOM, which solicit wholesale buyers and sellers worldwide to become paying members and then help them to sell products en masse, from selling merchandise that infringes upon the Montblanc, Cartier, Panerai, A. Lange & Söhne, Chloè and Alfred Dunhill trademarks.