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High Court Stamps on Online Trade in Fake Luxury Goods

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

In popular myth, the Internet is as lawless as the Wild West – but one important High Court case has strikingly revealed that the law can take very effective steps to block wholesale infringement of valuable trade marks online.

The proprietors of trade marks in luxury brands of watches and pens, Cartier and Montblanc, objected to five websites that were engaged in marketing cheap fakes of their products and launched proceedings to shut them down.

In a fast developing area of the law, they sought website blocking injunctions against five Internet operators who together controlled 92 per cent of the UK’s fixed-line broadband market. The latter took a neutral stance but put Cartier and Montblanc to proof that such orders were justified and necessary.

In granting the orders sought, the Court noted the lack of success Cartier and Montblanc had had in trying to achieve voluntary shutdown of the websites. The orders were a fair response to the flagrant breaches of their rights, which outweighed any impact there might be on the freedoms of those behind the websites and Internet users in general. It was also not suggested that the steps required of the Internet operators in blocking the websites would involve disproportionate expense.

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