Jeweller has discovered that Australian-based websites are openly selling counterfeit watches and jewellery from well known brands underneath the guise of “replicas”.
Investigations by Jeweller established which a local website – SwissReplicaWatches – sells exact copies of popular brands including Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega and Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry replica.
The internet site is registered to a company called Brantley Pty Ltd and Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show the business 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 contact number as 61 414 015 405 and helps to make the following claims; “We are Australia’s #1 Replica Watch Retailer, 1 Year FULL Replacement Warranty, 7 Day Risk-Free Money-Back Guarantee.”
A week ago Jeweller contacted Martenstyn, who confirmed the company had been operating for a couple of years but claimed his actions failed to breach any Australian or international laws. He went so far as describing his business as operating inside a necessary industry because consumers demand this product.
“I wouldn’t think of it counterfeiting,” Martenstyn said, adding that his products were “high-end replicas” made in Geneva, Switzerland. Interestingly SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states, “We refuse to dodgy ‘fakes’ from Asia.”
Based on intellectual property expert Lisa Egan, a senior associate at law firm Middletons, assessing whether item is counterfeit is fairly straight-forward.
“If a company is applying famous brands without the authority [constitute the brand owner] then it’s likely to be a trademark infringement,” she said, adding that selling exact copies could also be 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 site “helps” the wrist watch brands.
“People who order from us, they are not going to buy the original, thus it doesn’t directly modify the trademark owners. Actually, it helps them,” he said.
Egan said the only real reason the internet site could remain online was if not one of the affected brands had taken action.
“It’s around the those who own the brands to take action against it and possess that content removed,” she said.
Martenstyn claimed he had never been contacted by the brands featured on his website.
“We’ve never actually had any issues in any way. Once we were to have any kind of problems with the trademark holders our company is delighted to work to meet a resolution,” he stated.
The blatant nature of such operations raises questions about why the websites are allowed to remain online australia wide, considering the potential damage caused on the brands’ reputation and integrity.
Interestingly, Rolex managing director Richard De Leyser said he was aware about the internet site.
He refused to reply to the challenge any longer, but said: “We take any infringement of our own copyright very seriously.”
Martenstyn said he would continue operating the internet site provided that his business was profitable.
desire to purchase such goods, that’s if we wouldn’t supply them any more.”
Instead of getting a low-key approach, further investigations reveal the organization appears to be ramping up its operations, having recently advertised for 2 customer support representatives.
“We are looking for two new members to sign up with our dedicated and friendly team that specialises in supplying high-end luxury goods including jewellery, timepieces and paintings,” the internet advertisement reads.
Egan said there exists a variety of steps companies may take to shield their intellectual property from online counterfeiters.
“The first port of call is always to send a letter for the operator of the website,” she said, adding that Google can be contacted to get a website excluded from google search results.
“I think brands must be really vigilant in monitoring these websites. It’s really in regards to the brands having a proactive stance and making sure they’ve got their brand appropriately protected,” she said.
Martenstyn stressed that he had not been contacted by any of the brand owners about his website and added, in a interesting twist of logic, that he or she believes that his business activity is legal because no-one had contacted him to state it wasn’t.
He added that his legal advice is the fact he is not in breach in the law.
In addition, a disclaimer on SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states the brands “cannot prosecute anybody(s) associated with this website”, citing code 431.322.12 of your Internet Privacy Act.
Many more online shops display similar disclaimers, all citing code 431.322.12 in the Internet Privacy Act.
Another Australian website, that offers van cleef & arpels clover necklace outlet labelled jewellery cites a similar code, stating: “Any person representing or formally utilized by any of the brands offered cannot enter this web site. … When you enter this web site and you should not accept to these terms you will be in violation of code 431.322.12 of dexipky14 Internet Privacy Act.”
In addition to the reality that a large disclaimer such as that would stop being accepted from a court, Jeweller’s research may find no proof the existence of the, so-called, Internet Privacy Act. It looks to be a disclaimer used by lots of counterfeit websites in an effort to deter legal action.
Jeweller emailed Martenstyn asking, “The Terms & Conditions part of your internet site refers to the “Internet Privacy Act”. We are able to find no such Act, are you able to direct us into it?”
Martenstyn was asked whether he agreed that the product his business sold was counterfeit provided that it carries the logos of well-known brands.
April 24, 2017 /