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 that a local website – SwissReplicaWatches – sells exact copies of well known brands including Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega and Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry replica.
The website is registered to some 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 along with the website lists a phone 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.”
Last week Jeweller contacted Martenstyn, who confirmed how the company had been operating for a couple of years but claimed his actions did not breach any Australian or international laws. He went with regards to describing his business as operating within a necessary industry because consumers demand the product.
“I wouldn’t think of it counterfeiting,” Martenstyn said, adding that his products were “high-end replicas” produced in Geneva, Switzerland. Interestingly SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states, “We refuse to dodgy ‘fakes’ from Asia.”
As outlined by intellectual property expert Lisa Egan, a senior associate at lawyer Middletons, assessing whether product is counterfeit is fairly straight-forward.
“If an enterprise is employing brand names with no authority [constitute the brand owner] then it’s apt to be a trademark infringement,” she said, adding that selling exact copies may be a “design infringement”.
Egan confirmed how the term “replica” was incorrect – copies carrying a brand’s logo are classified as “counterfeit” goods.
Martenstyn justified his operation by claiming the internet site “helps” the wrist watch brands.
“People who order from us, they will not get the original, therefore it doesn’t directly change the trademark owners. The truth is, it helps them,” he was quoted saying.
Egan said the sole reason the website could remain online was if not one of the affected brands had taken action.
“It’s up to the people who own the brands to adopt action against it and also have that content removed,” she said.
Martenstyn claimed he had never been contacted by any one of the brands featured on his website.
“We’ve never actually had any issues whatsoever. When we were to have any sort of issues with the trademark holders we are happy to try to meet a resolution,” he said.
The blatant nature of the operations raises questions about why the websites may remain online australia wide, given the potential damage caused on the brands’ reputation and integrity.
Interestingly, Rolex managing director Richard De Leyser said he was mindful of the site.
He refused to discuss the matter any more, but said: “We take any infringement of our own copyright very seriously.”
Martenstyn said he would continue operating the website for as long as his business was profitable.
prefer to purchase such goods, that’s once we wouldn’t supply them any further.”
Rather than going for a low-key approach, further investigations reveal the company seems to be ramping up its operations, having recently advertised for a couple of customer care representatives.
“We are trying to find two new members to join 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 exists a number of steps companies will take to safeguard their intellectual property from online counterfeiters.
“The first port of call is always to send a letter for the operator from the website,” she said, adding that Google may also be contacted to possess a website excluded from search results.
“I think brands need to be really vigilant in monitoring these websites. It’s really regarding the brands having a proactive stance and ensuring they’ve got their brand appropriately protected,” she said.
Martenstyn stressed that he or she had not been contacted by the brand owners about his website and added, inside an interesting twist of logic, that he or she believes that his business activity is legal because no one had contacted him to say it wasn’t.
He added that his legal advice is that he is not in breach from the law.
Moreover, a disclaimer on SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states that the brands “cannot prosecute any person(s) affiliated with this website”, citing code 431.322.12 of your Internet Privacy Act.
Many more online retailers display similar disclaimers, all citing code 431.322.12 of your Internet Privacy Act.
Another Australian website, that offers replica Van Cleef & Arpels Necklace labelled jewellery cites a similar code, stating: “Any person representing or formally utilized by any of the brands offered cannot enter this site. … When you enter this page and never agree to these terms you are in violation of code 431.322.12 of dexipky14 Internet Privacy Act.”
Apart from the simple fact that an extensive disclaimer like that would not be accepted from a court, Jeweller’s research could find no evidence of the existence of the, so-called, Internet Privacy Act. It appears to be a disclaimer used by many counterfeit websites so as to deter court action.
Jeweller emailed Martenstyn asking, “The Terms & Conditions section of your internet site signifies the “Internet Privacy Act”. We can find no such Act, are you able to direct us on it?”
Martenstyn have also been asked whether he agreed the product his business sold was counterfeit considering that it carries the logos of well known brands.