Brand owners can force Internet service providers to block websites that sell counterfeits, the English High Court of Justice ruled on Oct. 17, responding to a legal challenge from Cartier.
In the case, Cartier owner Richemont asked five leading U.K. Internet service providers to block sites that allegedly sell counterfeit Cartier goods. The ISPs argued that this would mean additional costs for them—given it affects as many as 40,000 sites—and that they were just “intermediaries” that don’t do business with the sites in question.
In his ruling, Justice Richard Arnold said that removing these sites should be looked at as “cost of doing business,” and the ISPs already have the technology to block sites. He added that a past case against eBay affirmed that intermediaries bear responsibility for trademark infringement.
Arnold also noted that Richemont did not have many credible alternate measures, as sending takedown notices to the sites and overseas ISPs that host them will likely be ineffective. He said that while Richemont could ask search engines to de-index the sites, they will still be accessible online.
The court did agree to some safeguards, recommended by the Open Rights Group, which include limiting the time of the takedown order and giving users information on why the sites were blocked.