WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement said Monday it has seized 58 Web sites selling counterfeit sports items, infringing on the copyrights and trademarks of four major sport leagues.
Federal authorities spent a month investigating the sites, in an enforcement action dubbed “Operation Strike Out,” which commenced at the beginning of the American League and National League Championship Series leading up to Major League Baseball’s 2011 World Series.
In addition to seizing the domain names, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations agents took possession of 5,347 items, including apparel and accessories, valued at $134,862. The domain names have been shut down and are redirected to a seizure banner.
Three people were arrested on federal and state counterfeiting violations.
“HSI and the [Intellectual Property Rights] Center have made a major dent in these criminals’ plans to profit from fan enthusiasm surrounding a very exciting seven-game World Series — both in U.S. cities and in cyberspace,” said ICE director John Morton. “Counterfeits products represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy and sometimes dangerous goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs.”
Federal undercover agents purchased bogus items from online retailers suspected of selling counterfeit goods during the operation. Among the items were caps, T-shirts, jackets, tickets and other souvenirs.
The seized items came from Dallas, Detroit, Milwaukee and St. Louis and infringed on the copyrights or trademarks owned by MLB, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League.
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