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Richemont Seeking Order From Britain's High Court

The Switzerland-based luxury goods group wants the major Internet providers in the region to block users’ access to six sites that sell the bogus luxury goods.

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BLOCKING MOVE: Compagnie Financière Richemont, parent of brands including Cartier, Dunhill, and Van Cleef & Arpels, is seeking an order from Britain’s high court to block access to Web sites selling counterfeit versions of its brands’ watches and jewelry.

The Switzerland-based luxury goods group wants the major Internet providers in the region — BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE — to block users’ access to six sites that sell the bogus luxury goods.

A spokesman for Richemont declined to comment on Friday, saying the case was pending in the courts. Gareth Mead, a spokesman for Virgin Media, said in a statement: “This claim raises untested legal issues, and we believe it should be carefully scrutinized by the courts.”

On Friday, a spokesman for BT also pointed to “untested legal issues,” and added: “We believe that it is in the public interest to have it scrutinized carefully by the courts.” The Guardian newspaper first reported the news of Richemont’s case on its Web site late Thursday.

Currently in the U.K., the owners of copyrights for digitally distributed products such as music videos and films can apply to the court for orders that block access to Web sites selling pirated content.

According to industry sources, however, this is the first time that a company has asked the U.K. courts to block access to sites that sell physical counterfeit goods, such as jewelry and watches.

A source familiar with the case told WWD that if the U.K. court follows through with Richemont’s request and issues an order, there could be implications that stretch far beyond the rogue Web sites, to ones such as eBay or Gumtree.

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