Luxury brands must foot the bill to block counterfeit sites, court rules in Cartier case

Alys Key
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Cartier will have to pay to block counterfeit websites (Source: Getty)

Cartier, Montblanc and IWC were struck a blow this morning in the fight against counterfeits, when a UK court ruled that they must pay costs to get fraudulent sites blocked.

The three brands owned by luxury giant Richemont had argued that internet service providers (ISPs) should foot the bill for blocking websites selling counterfeit copies of luxury goods.

The brands have already established the right to obtain injunctions compelling ISPs to block specific websites which sell goods infringing on trademarks. This followed a principle set out by media companies, which can block access to copyright material.

But the ruling today means that if luxury brands wish to do this, they will have to pay court and implementation costs.

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Louise Popple and Michael Yates from law firm Taylor Wessing said it was likely that some luxury brands will try to get offending sites blocked, despite the cost.

"Securing the right to block access to sites offering counterfeit goods is a significant step forward," they said.

"While brand owners will still have to pay court costs and the cost of implementing any injunction granted, which could be significant in some cases, there will be many situations where these should not outweigh the benefits of obtaining a blocking order."

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However, the case poses a separate question about who should pay to block sites which infringe on copyright, rather than trademark.

Traditionally, ISPs have paid the cost of blocking site which infringe on copyright material such as music, but Popple and Yates said that today's ruling "opens the door" for ISPs to challenge this.

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