BT forces trademark owners to pay for website blocks after court win

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Companies looking to enforce blocks against websites breaching trademarks now have to pay “reasonable costs”

BT has won a four-year legal battle shedding the costly responsibility of taking down websites breaching trademarks.

The case was unanimously won (5-0) against jeweller Cartier, with the Supreme Court ruling that internet service providers (ISPs) such as BT will no longe have to pay the cost of blocking websites which breach trademarks, such as those that sell counterfeit versions of luxury goods.

Companies looking to enforce blocks against websites breaching trademarks now have to pay “reasonable costs” to ISPs, ruled Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption.

Legal experts said the principle could then apply to copyrighted material such as illegal music downloads. Internet service providers have been under pressure to police online crime, making this a potential landmark win.

The case follows a decision four years ago ruling Internet firms have to block websites that permit fake versions of brands to sell products. But who would cover the costs was up in the air.

The Court fo Appeal ruled in 2016 ISPs are liable for the costs but the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favour of BT and EE.

Reed Smith partner Michael Skrein, who represented BT said: “There is no legal basis for requiring a party to shoulder the burden of remedying an injustice if he has no legal responsibility for the infringement and is not a volunteer but is acting under the compulsion of an order of the court.”

 

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