Jeweller has discovered that Australian-based websites are openly selling counterfeit watches and jewellery from famous brands beneath the guise of “replicas”.
Investigations by Jeweller have established that the local website – SwissReplicaWatches – sells exact copies of well-known brands including Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega and Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry replica.
The web site is registered to your 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 and the website lists a phone number as 61 414 015 405 and helps make the following claims; “We are Australia’s #1 Replica Watch Retailer, 1 Year FULL Replacement Warranty, 7 Day Risk-Free Money-Back Guarantee.”
The other day Jeweller contacted Martenstyn, who confirmed that the company was operating for two years but claimed his actions failed to breach any Australian or international laws. He went so far as 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” 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 firm Middletons, assessing whether product is counterfeit is very straight-forward.
“If a business is using brand names without the authority [form the brand owner] then it’s likely to be a trademark infringement,” she said, adding that selling exact copies may be a “design infringement”.
Egan confirmed that this term “replica” was incorrect – copies carrying a brand’s logo are classified as “counterfeit” goods.
Martenstyn justified his operation by claiming the web site “helps” the wrist watch brands.
“People who buy from us, they will not buy the original, therefore it doesn’t directly modify the trademark owners. In reality, it can help them,” he explained.
Egan said really the only reason the website could remain online was if no affected brands had taken action.
“It’s as much as the people who own the brands to consider action against it and get 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 type of complications with the trademark holders our company is delighted to work to meet a resolution,” he said.
The blatant nature of those operations raises questions on why the websites are permitted to remain online around australia, given the potential damage caused for the brands’ reputation and integrity.
Interestingly, Rolex managing director Richard De Leyser said he was mindful of the site.
He refused to discuss the challenge further, but said: “We take any infringement of our copyright very seriously.”
Martenstyn said he would continue operating the site provided that his business was profitable.
wish to purchase such goods, that’s if we wouldn’t supply them any further.”
Instead of taking a low-key approach, further investigations reveal the company appears to be ramping up its operations, having recently advertised for just two customer support representatives.
“We are looking for two new members to sign up for our dedicated and friendly team that specialises in supplying high-end luxury goods like jewellery, timepieces and paintings,” the web based advertisement reads.
Egan said there exists a number of steps companies may take to safeguard their intellectual property from online counterfeiters.
“The first port of call is to send a letter on 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 need to 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 which 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 mention it wasn’t.
He added that his legal advice is the fact he or she is not in breach from the law.
Additionally, a disclaimer on SwissReplicaWatches.com.au states the brands “cannot prosecute anyone(s) associated with this website”, citing code 431.322.12 in the Internet Privacy Act.
A lot more online shops display similar disclaimers, all citing code 431.322.12 of your Internet Privacy Act.
Another Australian website, that offers van cleef & arpels clover necklace outlet labelled jewellery cites exactly the same code, stating: “Any person representing or formally employed by the brands offered cannot enter this amazing site. … Should you enter this web site and never accept to these terms you might be in violation of code 431.322.12 of dexipky14 Internet Privacy Act.”
Besides the reality that a wide disclaimer that way would not accepted by way of a court, Jeweller’s research could find no proof the presence of the, so-called, Internet Privacy Act. It seems to be a disclaimer used by lots of counterfeit websites in an effort to deter court action.
Jeweller emailed Martenstyn asking, “The Terms & Conditions area of your web site refers to the “Internet Privacy Act”. We are able to find no such Act, are you able to direct us with it?”
Martenstyn was asked whether he agreed the product his business sold was counterfeit given that it carries the logos of famous brands.