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 that a local website – SwissReplicaWatches – sells exact copies of well known brands including Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega and replica Hermes Jewelry.
The website is registered into a 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 along with 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.”
Last week Jeweller contacted Martenstyn, who confirmed that this company was 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 consider 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.”
According to intellectual property expert Lisa Egan, a senior associate at law firm Middletons, assessing whether product is counterfeit is fairly straight-forward.
“If a business is employing famous brands without the authority [make up 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 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 buy from us, they will not purchase the original, so it doesn’t directly modify the trademark owners. In reality, it may help them,” he explained.
Egan said the only real reason the internet site could remain online was if none of the affected brands had taken action.
“It’s up to the owners of the brands for taking action against it and 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 by any means. When we were to have any kind of difficulties with the trademark holders we are happy to work to meet a resolution,” he stated.
The blatant nature of these operations raises questions regarding why the websites are allowed to remain online australia wide, because of the potential damage caused for the brands’ reputation and integrity.
Interestingly, Rolex managing director Richard De Leyser said he was aware of the internet site.
He refused to comment on the matter any longer, but said: “We take any infringement in our copyright very seriously.”
Martenstyn said he would continue operating the website for as long as his business was profitable.
wish to purchase such goods, that’s if we wouldn’t supply them any further.”
Rather than going for a low-key approach, further investigations reveal the business seems to be ramping up its operations, having recently advertised for a couple of customer support representatives.
“We are trying to find 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 internet advertisement reads.
Egan said you will discover a quantity of steps companies will take to safeguard their intellectual property from online counterfeiters.
“The first port of call is usually to send a letter to the operator in the website,” she said, adding that Google can be contacted to get a website excluded from search results.
“I think brands must be really vigilant in monitoring these web sites. It’s really concerning the brands taking a proactive stance and making sure they’ve got their brand appropriately protected,” she said.
Martenstyn stressed that he or she had not been contacted by any of the brand owners about his website and added, within an interesting twist of logic, that he or she believes that his business activity is legal because no one had contacted him to mention it wasn’t.
He added that his legal advice is he is not in breach from the law.
Furthermore, a disclaimer on SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states how the brands “cannot prosecute any person(s) associated with this website”, citing code 431.322.12 of your Internet Privacy Act.
A lot more online retailers display similar disclaimers, all citing code 431.322.12 from the Internet Privacy Act.
Another Australian website, which offers van cleef & arpels clover necklace outlet labelled jewellery cites a similar code, stating: “Any person representing or formally employed by some of the brands offered cannot enter this site. … When you enter this page and never consent to these terms you might be in violation of code 431.322.12 of dexipky14 Internet Privacy Act.”
Besides the proven fact that an extensive disclaimer such as that would not really accepted from a court, Jeweller’s research might find no proof 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 legal action.
Jeweller emailed Martenstyn asking, “The Terms & Conditions portion of your website refers to the “Internet Privacy Act”. We can easily find no such Act, can you direct us with it?”
Martenstyn was asked whether he agreed the product his business sold was counterfeit considering the fact that it carries the logos of popular brands.