PARIS, France — Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA, which sells Cartier watches and other luxury brands, won a U.K. court ruling that orders Internet providers to block websites selling counterfeit goods, in what a judge said was one of the first cases of its kind in Europe.
Judge Richard Arnold said British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, BT Group Plc and other providers should “block, or at least impede, access” to six sites including which offers what it describes as cheap replicas, according to the 266-page ruling.
The sale of counterfeit and pirated products could be worth as much as $960 billion a year by 2015, according to a 2011 report by Frontier Economics Ltd. cited in the ruling. Judge Arnold said the case was one of the first applications made in Europe for a website-blocking order related to trademark infringement.
“This case represents a positive step in the fight to protect brands and customers from the sale of counterfeit goods online,” Elizabeth Snow, a U.K. spokeswoman for Richemont, said in an e-mail.
The Richemont lawsuit is a “test case” and may be followed by other applications by companies in the U.K. and around Europe, Judge Arnold said. His order would “impose additional operating costs” on the Internet providers enforcing it, he said.
“Innocent Internet users can end up being affected by these orders,” said David Allen Green, a lawyer representing Open Rights Group, which lobbies to protect digital freedoms. The group intervened in the case to ensure that the judge included safeguards in his decision, including a time limit on blocking orders, it said in an e-mailed statement.
The case is Cartier International AG & Anr v. British Sky Broadcasting Limited & Ors, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC14C01382.
By Kit Chellel; editors: Anthony Aarons, Celeste Perri.