High Court instructs ISPs to block counterfeit sites

Virgin Media, BT, EE, BSkyB and TalkTalk have all been directed to block access to the sites selling fake goods

Court

Five of the country's biggest ISPs have been asked to prevent access to six websites selling counterfeit goods in a High Court ruling - the first of its kind in this country.

Virgin, BT, EE, BSkyB and TalkTalk have been told to add an 'access denied' notice on the websites believed to be selling fake goods claiming to be authentic Montblanc-Simplo and Cartier International (collectively part of the Compagnie Financire Richemont group) products.

Judge Mr Justice Richard Arnold said: "The page should not merely state that access to the website has been blocked by court order, but also should identify the party or parties which obtained the order and state that affected users have the right to apply to the Court to discharge or vary the order."

The second part of the ruling is that the injunction issued by the Richemont group will expire after a certain amount of time unless they re-submit a request for extention of the ISPs agree to prolong the directive.

"This will enable the practical operation of the orders to be reviewed in the light of experience," Arnold said.

The websites in question are cartierloveonline.com, hotcartierwatch.com, iwcwatchtop.com, replicawatchesiwc.com, 1iwc.com, montblancpensonlineuk.com and ukmontblancoutlet.co.uk, all of whom are selling high-value items such as watches and pens.

Richemont told Torrentfreak: "We are pleased by this judgment and welcome the Court's recognition that there is a public interest in preventing trade mark infringement, particularly where counterfeit goods are involved. The Courts had already granted orders requiring ISPs to block sites for infringement of copyright in relation to pirated content. This decision is a logical extension of that principle to trade marks."

It said it will add more websites flogging fake goods to its list if it finds they are infringing copyright.

The company's representing law firm said: "In a comprehensive judgment, the court has considered the enforcement methods that are presently available to trade mark owners when tackling infringement online. The court has concluded that Internet Service Providers play an essential role' and that the court can and should apply Article 11 of the Enforcement Directive to require the application of technical measures to impede infringement of trade marks."

Following take-down requests by other industries, including the entertainment industry, it seems these types of requests will not become uncommon in the coming months.

In December last year, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), Europol and the US authorities closed down 90 websites selling counterfeit goods as part of its worldwide crackdown.

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