Hundreds of websites that allegedly sell counterfeit watches are set to be taken down, the result of a $100 million default judgment won in a New York Federal Court judgement on January 4, 2013 by a group of Richemont brands.
In the case of Alfred Dunhill Limited et al v. Chen et al the brands sued the sites on 6 August 2012, charging them with counterfeiting infringement, cyber-squatting, and trademark dilution. The owners of the sites did not respond to the companies’ complaint, and were therefore subject to a default judgement.
The defendants named in the lawsuit were Tony Chen, Fan Bao Dian and the owners of Chinese company Nanyang Technology Co. Ltd.
Although many websites were ordered to be taken down, it may prove difficult for the brands to track down the money from the defendants, although any cash held in the websites’ Paypal and other online accounts will be forfeited. As well, the judgment prevents the sites from being indexed on search engines or social network sites. In a nod to the fact that replica sites can pop up easily, quickly, and under different or multiple names, the judgment gives the brands an ability to serve the injunction on any newly-detected websites that sell replicas.
Estimates from Swiss group the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie from 2010 are that approximately $1 billion is lost to counterfeit watches, with around 40m fake watches sold each year, compared to 26 million genuine ones.