Jeweller has discovered that Australian-based websites are openly selling counterfeit watches and jewellery from well known brands within the guise of “replicas”.
Investigations by Jeweller established a local website – SwissReplicaWatches – sells exact copies of famous brands including Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega and replica Hermes Jewelry.
The website is registered to your company called Brantley Pty Ltd and Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show the organization as having two, Sri Lankan-born, directors; Kristiaan Martenstyn and Peduru Jayalath.
The registered address of Melbourne-based Brantley Pty Ltd is Unit 1508, 18 Waterview Walk, Docklands and also the website lists a telephone number as 61 414 015 405 and definitely makes the following claims; “We are Australia’s #1 Replica Watch Retailer, 1 Year FULL Replacement Warranty, 7 Day Risk-Free Money-Back Guarantee.”
A couple weeks ago Jeweller contacted Martenstyn, who confirmed that the company have been operating for 2 years but claimed his actions did not breach any Australian or international laws. He went so far as describing his business as operating in a necessary industry because consumers demand this product.
“I wouldn’t consider it counterfeiting,” Martenstyn said, adding that his products were “high-end replicas” produced in Geneva, Switzerland. Interestingly SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states, “We say NO to dodgy ‘fakes’ from Asia.”
In accordance with intellectual property expert Lisa Egan, a senior associate at law office Middletons, assessing whether item is counterfeit is very straight-forward.
“If a business is applying brand names without any authority [constitute the brand owner] then it’s probably going to be a trademark infringement,” she said, adding that selling exact copies is also a “design infringement”.
Egan confirmed that this term “replica” was incorrect – copies carrying a brand’s logo are considered “counterfeit” goods.
Martenstyn justified his operation by claiming the internet site “helps” the wrist watch brands.
“People who buy from us, they will not purchase the original, so that it doesn’t directly affect the trademark owners. In fact, it can help them,” he explained.
Egan said the only real reason the site could remain online was if no affected brands had taken action.
“It’s approximately the those who own the brands to consider action against it and possess that content removed,” she said.
Martenstyn claimed he had never been contacted by any of the brands featured on his website.
“We’ve never actually had any issues at all. When we would have any sort of difficulties with the trademark holders we have been pleased to try to meet a resolution,” he explained.
The blatant nature of such operations raises questions on why the websites are allowed to remain online australia wide, because of the potential damage caused on the brands’ reputation and integrity.
Interestingly, Rolex managing director Richard De Leyser said he was aware of the internet site.
He refused to comment on the challenge any longer, but said: “We take any infringement of our copyright very seriously.”
Martenstyn said he would continue operating the web site so long as his business was profitable.
desire to purchase such goods, that’s whenever we wouldn’t supply them any longer.”
Rather than having a low-key approach, further investigations reveal the organization looks to be ramping up its operations, having recently advertised for just two customer care representatives.
“We are searching for two new members to sign up for our dedicated and friendly team that specialises in supplying high-end luxury goods for example jewellery, timepieces and paintings,” the web based advertisement reads.
Egan said there is a quantity of steps companies may take to guard their intellectual property from online counterfeiters.
“The first port of call is always to send a letter to the operator in the website,” she said, adding that Google may also be contacted to get a website excluded from search engine results.
“I think brands must be really vigilant in monitoring these websites. It’s really concerning the brands having a proactive stance and making sure they’ve got their brand appropriately protected,” she said.
Martenstyn stressed which he had not been contacted by the brand owners about his website and added, inside an interesting twist of logic, that he believes that his business activity is legal because no one had contacted him to mention it wasn’t.
He added that his legal counsel is the fact that he is not in breach of the law.
Moreover, a disclaimer on SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states how the brands “cannot prosecute anybody(s) associated with this website”, citing code 431.322.12 of your Internet Privacy Act.
A lot more internet retailers display similar disclaimers, all citing code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act.
Another Australian website, that offers replica Van Cleef & Arpels Necklace labelled jewellery cites the same code, stating: “Any person representing or formally used by any one of the brands offered cannot enter this web site. … If you enter this site and do not accept to these terms you might be in violation of code 431.322.12 of dexipky14 Internet Privacy Act.”
In addition to the reality that a wide disclaimer like this would not really accepted by a court, Jeweller’s research can find no proof of the presence of the, so-called, Internet Privacy Act. It looks to be a disclaimer used by many counterfeit websites in an attempt to deter legal action.
Jeweller emailed Martenstyn asking, “The Terms & Conditions section of your website refers back to the “Internet Privacy Act”. We could find no such Act, is it possible to direct us on it?”
Martenstyn was also asked whether he agreed that the product his business sold was counterfeit considering the fact that it carries the logos of well-known brands.