Jeweller has learned 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 website is registered to some company called Brantley Pty Ltd and Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show the corporation 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 the website lists a telephone 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 how the company had been operating for two years but claimed his actions did not breach any Australian or international laws. He went in terms of describing his business as operating within 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” produced in Geneva, Switzerland. Interestingly SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states, “We say NO to dodgy ‘fakes’ from Asia.”
Based on intellectual property expert Lisa Egan, a senior associate at lawyer Middletons, assessing whether item is counterfeit is very straight-forward.
“If an organization is applying famous brands without any authority [form the brand owner] then it’s likely to be a trademark infringement,” she said, adding that selling exact copies may also be a “design infringement”.
Egan confirmed how 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 watch brands.
“People who buy from us, they are not likely to buy the original, therefore it doesn’t directly change the trademark owners. In fact, it helps them,” he was quoted saying.
Egan said the only real reason the web page could remain online was if not one of the affected brands had taken action.
“It’s up to the those who own the brands for taking action against it and also have 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 whatsoever. If we were to have any type of complications with the trademark holders we have been pleased to work to meet a resolution,” he stated.
The blatant nature of the operations raises questions on why the websites are permitted to remain online around australia, due to the potential damage caused on the brands’ reputation and integrity.
Interestingly, Rolex managing director Richard De Leyser said he was mindful of the website.
He refused to comment on the matter any longer, but said: “We take any infringement of our copyright very seriously.”
Martenstyn said he would continue operating the web site provided that his business was profitable.
want to purchase such goods, that’s if we wouldn’t supply them any longer.”
Instead of getting a low-key approach, further investigations reveal the company looks to be ramping up its operations, having recently advertised for a couple of customer support representatives.
“We are seeking two new members to participate our dedicated and friendly team that specialises in supplying high-end luxury goods such as jewellery, timepieces and paintings,” the web based advertisement reads.
Egan said you will find a variety of steps companies might take to safeguard their intellectual property from online counterfeiters.
“The first port of call is to send a letter for the operator of the website,” she said, adding that Google can be contacted to have a website excluded from google search results.
“I think brands have to be really vigilant in monitoring these web sites. It’s really about the brands having a proactive stance and ensuring 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, which he believes that his business activity is legal because nobody had contacted him to state it wasn’t.
He added that his legal advice is that he is not in breach of your law.
Moreover, a disclaimer on SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states that this brands “cannot prosecute any individual(s) connected to this website”, citing code 431.322.12 of your Internet Privacy Act.
More online retailers display similar disclaimers, all citing code 431.322.12 from the Internet Privacy Act.
Another Australian website, which provides van cleef & arpels clover necklace outlet labelled jewellery cites a similar code, stating: “Any person representing or formally used by some of the brands offered cannot enter this web site. … If you enter this web site and you should not consent to these terms you are in violation of code 431.322.12 of dexipky14 Internet Privacy Act.”
Besides the proven fact that an extensive disclaimer like that would not be accepted with a court, Jeweller’s research might find no proof of the presence of the, so-called, Internet Privacy Act. It looks to be a disclaimer used by lots of counterfeit websites in an attempt to deter court action.
Jeweller emailed Martenstyn asking, “The Terms & Conditions portion of your internet site signifies the “Internet Privacy Act”. We are able to find no such Act, could you direct us with it?”
Martenstyn have also been asked whether he agreed how the product his business sold was counterfeit considering that it carries the logos of well known brands.