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London--An appeal by British internet service providers (ISPs) of the 2014 ruling that required them to block access to websites offering counterfeit goods has been unsuccessful.

Last month, the England and Wales Court of Appeal upheld the 2014 verdict, in a victory for luxury goods conglomerate Richemont, owner of Cartier, Montblanc and IWC, as well as other luxury brand owners.

Richemont originally brought five of the U.K.’s ISPs responsible for 95 percent of the nation’s broadband service --BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE--to trial in an effort to force providers to disable websites selling goods that infringed on trademarks of Richemont-owned brands.

ISPs argued that existing piracy laws only applied to copyright infringement of the nature pertaining to illegal music and movie downloads, and not to trademark infringement.

The court ruled in Richemont’s favor, establishing a precedent that ISPs must share the burden of combating illegal online counterfeit sales. While the responsibility lies with brands to identify the offending websites, the case determined that ISPs have a legal responsibility to cooperate in disabling them.
“(This ruling) is a huge victory for brand owners in the fight against websites selling counterfeit goods and demonstrates the extent of the court’s power to grant an injunction in circumstances where it is just and convenient to do so.” -- Wiggins, the law firm that represented Richemont in the case

Now that decision has been solidified with the July 6 rejection of the appeals of the ISPs.

“The class of persons against whom an injunction may issue is not limited to wrongdoers,” wrote Lord Justice Kitchin in the case’s ruling. “Once an ISP has become aware that its services are being used by third parties to infringe an intellectual property right, then it becomes subject to a duty to take proportionate measures to prevent or reduce such infringements even though it is not itself liable for them.”

“The judgment is the first from a senior court in the U.K. and mainland Europe to consider this important issue,” Wiggins, the law firm that represented Richemont, stated in a release. “It is a huge victory for brand owners in the fight against websites selling counterfeit goods and demonstrates the extent of the court’s power to grant an injunction in circumstances where it is just and convenient to do so.”

The ISPs can appeal the case further to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, but have yet to indicate that they will do so.

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