Jeweller has learned that Australian-based websites are openly selling counterfeit watches and jewellery from well known brands under the guise of “replicas”.
Investigations by Jeweller established that the local website – SwissReplicaWatches – sells exact copies of popular brands including Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega and replica Cartier jewelry.
The site is registered to some 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 as well as the website lists a contact number as 61 414 015 405 and 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 just two 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 the item.
“I wouldn’t refer to it as counterfeiting,” Martenstyn said, adding that his products were “high-end replicas” manufactured in Geneva, Switzerland. Interestingly SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states, “We say NO to dodgy ‘fakes’ from Asia.”
According to intellectual property expert Lisa Egan, a senior associate at law office Middletons, assessing whether item is counterfeit is quite straight-forward.
“If a company is employing brands with no authority [make up the brand owner] then it’s apt to be a trademark infringement,” she said, adding that selling exact copies may also be a “design infringement”.
Egan confirmed that the 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 are not going to buy the original, so it doesn’t directly impact the trademark owners. In fact, it will help them,” he stated.
Egan said the sole reason the web page could remain online was if no affected brands had taken action.
“It’s around the those who own the brands to take action against it and have that content removed,” she said.
Martenstyn claimed he had never been contacted by some of the brands featured on his website.
“We’ve never actually had any issues whatsoever. Once we would have any kind of problems with the trademark holders our company is happy to try to meet a resolution,” he said.
The blatant nature of the operations raises questions regarding why the websites can remain online within australia, given the potential damage caused to the brands’ reputation and integrity.
Interestingly, Rolex managing director Richard De Leyser said he was aware about the web site.
He refused to comment on the challenge any longer, but said: “We take any infringement of our own copyright very seriously.”
Martenstyn said he would continue operating the website so long as his business was profitable.
prefer to purchase such goods, that’s once we wouldn’t supply them any more.”
As an alternative to getting a low-key approach, further investigations reveal the organization appears to be ramping up its operations, having recently advertised for two customer satisfaction representatives.
“We are seeking two new members to participate our dedicated and friendly team that specialises in supplying high-end luxury goods like jewellery, timepieces and paintings,” the internet advertisement reads.
Egan said you will discover a variety of steps companies might take to shield their intellectual property from online counterfeiters.
“The first port of call is to send a letter towards the operator from the website,” she said, adding that Google can even be contacted to possess a website excluded from search engine rankings.
“I think brands must be really vigilant in monitoring these websites. It’s really in regards to the brands having a proactive stance and ensuring that they’ve got their brand appropriately protected,” she said.
Martenstyn stressed that he had not been contacted by the brand owners about his website and added, in an interesting twist of logic, that he believes that his business activity is legal because no one had contacted him to state it wasn’t.
He added that his legal services is he or she is not in breach of the law.
Moreover, a disclaimer on SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states that this brands “cannot prosecute any person(s) connected to this website”, citing code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act.
A lot more internet retailers display similar disclaimers, all citing code 431.322.12 in the Internet Privacy Act.
Another Australian website, that provides van cleef & arpels clover necklace outlet labelled jewellery cites the identical code, stating: “Any person representing or formally used by the brands offered cannot enter this website. … Should you enter this site and never agree to these terms you might be in violation of code 431.322.12 of dexipky14 Internet Privacy Act.”
Aside from the simple fact that a broad disclaimer that way would stop being accepted by a court, Jeweller’s research may find no evidence of the presence of the, so-called, Internet Privacy Act. It is apparently a disclaimer used by many counterfeit websites so as to deter court action.
Jeweller emailed Martenstyn asking, “The Terms & Conditions section of your site signifies the “Internet Privacy Act”. We can find no such Act, could you direct us into it?”
Martenstyn had also been asked whether he agreed how the product his business sold was counterfeit considering the fact that it carries the logos of popular brands.