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ISPs in the UK must block websites selling counterfeits

The High Court in the United Kingdom has decided that Internet service products must take action to restrict access to websites that are selling physical counterfeits, such as clothing and jewelry, when a brand owner requests this. This is the result of Swiss luxury company Richemont going to court some months ago.

The second-largest luxury goods company in the world was looking for an injunction that would force ISP’s to prevent access to several named website selling counterfeit goods. Rights owners already have the ability to obtain blocking injunctions against Internet service providers in the case of sites facilitating copyright infringement of digital content, such as music and downloads. But there was no such law for websites selling trade mark infringing counterfeits.

But now there is. And that’s something a lot of rights owners will probably be happy about, as there are many shopping sites that allow sales from third party vendors and there are an astonishing number of smaller websites selling fraudulent goods. So with this judgment major brands can finally take much more effective action against counterfeiters.

Shutting down website selling counterfeits is difficult
Arty Rajendra from IP law firm Rouse Legal, who has acted for Richemont, thinks the decision of the High Court is a serious blow to counterfeiters. “And good news for consumers and brands in the run up to Christmas. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to shut down websites selling counterfeit products – often to unsuspecting customers. The internet provides these vendors anonymity and the ability to mask their location, often allowing them to evade justice and make money off fake goods that would never pass inspection on the high street.“

She adds: “A more effective way to tackle the issue is by cutting off oxygen to counterfeiters by stopping traffic to their sites. Today’s judgment will compel ISPs to do this, if requested by a brand owner. ISPs have a vital role to play in this process because they can restrict access to sites notorious for selling fake goods. This will make it more difficult for criminals to dupe consumers into buying illegal and sometimes dangerous knock-offs.” It is likely that the decision will be appealed.