Richemont test case paves the way for online counterfeit outlets to be blocked

21 October 2014

The responsibilities of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) towards brand owners have been the subject of much discussion. The decision of the English High Court (Arnold J.) in Cartier International & others v B Sky B Ltd & others is a significant development in this context, being the first website blocking order awarded to a brand owner.

In a test case brought by Richemont, the owner of luxury brands such as Cartier, the English High Court has ordered the UK's main internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to websites selling counterfeit products.

Over the last couple of years, several website blocking orders have been obtained by music and film copyright owners. These have resulted in ISPs preventing their customers from accessing websites such as The Pirate Bay which are predominantly used to share copyright infringing content.

Until now, blocking orders have not been used in respect of counterfeit goods or other trademark infringement. This is in part, because while there is clear scope in section 97A of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 for ISPs to be ordered to block copyright infringing content, there is no equivalent provision for trademark infringement.

In a typically thorough and reasoned judgment, Mr Justice Arnold has concluded that ISPs can similarly be ordered to block websites which advertise and sell trademark infringing products.

This case paves the way for other brand owners to seek blocking orders in respect of websites selling counterfeit goods. The ISPs are unlikely to defend future cases, which could be brought using the simplified CPR Part 8 procedure.


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