Lawsuit over knockoff watch can be served via WhatsApp, judge rules

Lawsuit over knockoff watch can be served via WhatsApp, judge rules

In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a Queens judge has allowed a lawsuit over a knockoff luxury watch to be served through the messaging service WhatsApp.

The landmark ruling comes after Vienna resident Ahmed Alzaabi purchased what he thought was a genuine 2011 men’s Patek Philippe Nautilus from a man named Janoton Timothy Jaskon through the popular website Chrono24, the Austrian said in court papers.

Alzaabi wired Jaskon $34,000 for the luxe timepiece in early July after negotiating the deal through WhatsApp, according to the lawsuit filed in Queens Supreme Court.

Jaskon then mailed the watch overseas from an address in Ozone Park, Queens.

Alzaabi had 30 days to return the item and tried to do so after two Patek retailers told him the timepiece wasn’t authentic, according to the suit.

But Jaskon refused to refund the money.

When Alzaabi sent a process server to Jaskon’s Queens home to deliver the lawsuit, he discovered the return address that had been on the original package didn’t exist, according to court papers.

Jaskon had said he lived at 9928 Albert Road, but the address range for the 99 block of that street ends at 9927, the suit says.

The law usually requires service of suits either in person or by mail. But “here it has been shown that it is impracticable to serve the defendant through traditional means,” Justice Robert McDonald wrote in the novel ruling.

“However the parties were able to communicate successfully via WhatsApp. Thus, this court finds that service should be made via WhatsApp and a local Queens newspaper,” he ruled.

The judge directed Alzaabi’s lawyer to contact Jaskon via WhatsApp, identify himself, and attach an image of the suit.

Jaskon could not be reached for comment as his name does not come up in a public records search.

In the past, judges have allowed suits to be served through Facebook but not WhatsApp. In March, a federal judge in Florida allowed the US Justice Department to surveil a WhatsApp account in a pending criminal probe.