Watch Brands Win $100 Million Anti-Counterfeiting Suit

Hundreds of websites that allegedly sell counterfeit watches are set to be taken down in the next week, the result of a whopping $100 million default judgment won by a group of Richemont brands on Jan. 4.

The brands—Cartier, Lange Uhren (A. Lange & Söhne), Officine Panerai, Roger Dubuis, and Alfred Dunhill—sued the sites last Aug. 6 in New York federal court, charging them with counterfeiting infringement, cyber-squatting, and trademark dilution. The owners of the sites, with names like fakewatches.com, never answered the companies’ complaint, and were therefore subject to default.

Like a similar $100 million anti-counterfeiting judgment won by Hermes last year, the judgment is significant for the strong injunctive relief that accompanies it. The judgment orders the sites to be disabled within three business days, requires the contents of the defendants’ Paypal accounts to be forfeited to Richemont, and prevents the sites from being indexed on search engines or social network sites.

Still, the court papers take note of the difficulties in stamping out the counterfeit trade, finding that the sites frequently change their names to escape detection and then use a variety of search optimization techniques to drive traffic. The judgment gives the brands an ability to serve the injunction on any newly-detected websites that sell replicas.

A declaration from Richmeont senior digital and intellectual property counsel Stacey King said that most of the sites likely originate in China, and sell pieces “so similar to genuine [Richemont watches] that it’s likely [consumers] could be deceived.”

At press time, some of the sites listed in the judgment, such as topcartierstore.net, remained online.