On the heels of the landmark ruling in the Richemont lawsuit, in which the luxury conglomerate asked the court to order that the UK’s five major internet service providers – BSkyB, BT, EE, TalkTalk, and VirginMedia – block six websites offering counterfeit goods, the Australian government is set to decide on a similar matter. Instead of a lawsuit, however, the Parliament of Australia will decide on a proposal that is being put together by Attorney-General George Brandis and Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull that would enabled intellectual property holders to seek a court injunction demanding that internet service providers block websites deemed to host infringing content.
While this could, in fact, extend to a wide range of copyright-infringing entertainment, what is most interesting for us are the rights this would extent to fashion brands in their unending fight against counterfeiters. The initial proposal appears to only include copyright infringement language, but that does not mean trademark infringement rights will not ultimately follow. The Richemont case, which was heard in the High Court of England & Wales in late October by Justice Richard Arnold extended the remedy of injunctions - a favored weapon of copyright enforcers - to trademarks for the first time, thereby allowing Cartier (a Richemont subsidiary), for instance, to fight infringement of its trademarks on the web. As such, this may be the first step for Australian in formulating legislation to ultimately ban trademark and trade dress-infringing websites.