The FBI Washington Field Office announced today that seizure orders have been executed against 150 domain names of commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works as part of Operation In Our Sites.
“Through this operation we are aggressively targeting those who are selling counterfeit goods for their own personal gain while costing our economy much needed revenue and jobs,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
“For most, the holidays represent a season of good will and giving, but for these criminals, it’s the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers,” said ICE Director John Morton. “More and more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online, and they may not realize that purchasing counterfeit goods results in American jobs lost, American business profits stolen and American consumers receiving substandard products. And the ramifications can be even greater because the illicit profits made from these types of illegal ventures often fuel other kinds of organized crime.”
The 150 seized domains are in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.
During this operation, federal law enforcement agents made undercover purchases of a host of products, including professional sports jerseys, golf equipment, DVD sets, footwear, handbags and sunglasses, representing a variety of trademarks from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products. In most cases, the goods were shipped directly into the United States from suppliers in other countries. If the trademark holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods and associated websites were obtained from federal magistrate judges.
This operation is the eighth phase of Operation In Our Sites, a sustained law enforcement initiative to protect consumers by targeting counterfeit and piracy on the Internet. This is the second year that a phase of Operation In Our Sites has coincided with Cyber Monday. In November 2010, 82 websites were seized during the Cyber Monday-related operation.
Operation In Our Sites was spearheaded by the IPR Center in coordination with the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and eight U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, including the District of Maryland, Southern District of Texas, Western District of Texas, District of Minnesota, Eastern District of Michigan, Eastern District of Louisiana and District of Colorado.
The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce.
Source: The Federal Bureau of Investigations
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