Determined to protect its luxury market, Richemont has a reputation for buying back its high-end watches and other goods. Just last month, the company said it had spent more than R3bn on "inventory repurchases". But Richemont also has other strategies to protect its products. Last week the UK supreme court decided a landmark intellectual property (IP) appeal concerning Cartier and other Richemont companies that had taken legal steps to curb the selling of counterfeit goods through the Internet. The court noted that the Internet gives infringers a powerful tool to operate on a large scale and with "practically complete anonymity": evidence at the start of Cartier’s litigation identified about 46,000 websites offering "infringing copies" of its branded goods. In 2014 Cartier and the other Richemont companies obtained a court order for five of the UK’s largest Internet service providers (ISPs) to try to block access to specified "target websites", as well as their domains, subdomains o...

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