U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations teamed with 10 foreign law enforcement agencies to seize hundreds of domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online.
This story first appeared in the December 3, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 706 domain names seized were set up to dupe consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods as part of the holiday shopping season. The operations were coordinated by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Washington.
An iteration of Operation In Our Sites, Project Cyber Monday IV resulted in the seizure of 297 domain names from undercover operations conducted by HSI offices around the country. This is the fourth year that the IPR Center has targeted Web sites selling counterfeit products online in conjunction with Cyber Monday. Due to the global nature of Internet crime, the IPR Center partnered with Europol, which through its member countries seized 393 foreign-based domains. In addition, Hong Kong Customs coordinated the seizure of 16 domains hosted in the region.
“Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP crime,” said ICE acting director John Sandweg. “Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere.”
The domain names seized are now in the custody of the governments involved in these operations. Visitors typing those domain names into their Web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.
Operation In Our Sites is a law enforcement initiative that began more than three years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the Internet. The 297 domain names seized under Project Cyber Monday IV bring the total number of In Our Sites domain names seized to 2,550 since the operation began in June 2010. In that time, the seizure banner has received more than 122 million individual views.