An interesting and 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 wanted Cartier and Montblanc to prove that these injunctions were both 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.
For smaller businesses, going for injunctive relief and enforcing your IP rights are expensive propositions and, whilst manageable for Cartier and Montblanc, may not be viable for many of us. Still, keeping an eye on the internet in order to ensure you’re aware of infringement, and then sending a letter threatening action if positive steps are not taken, is a good approach, and often works. We can help you through this process, in a timely and cost-effective manner. IP is one of the most valuable assets you have; don’t take it for granted that yours is protected.