November 29, 2011
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has used Cyber Monday, one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, to announce it had seized control of 150 domain names associated with sites ICE states were engaged in selling counterfeit and pirated merchandise.
The joint operation was carried out with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), the Department of Justice and the FBI Washington Field Office.
This was the eighth phase of Operation In Our Sites and netted far more domains than last year's Cyber Monday blitz, when 82 domain names were seized.
According to Attorney General Eric Holder, those who sell counterfeit goods "harm businesses and consumers, alike, threatening economic opportunity and financial stability."
There appeared to be quite a lead up to the event, with federal law enforcement agents first buying a range of products from online retailers suspected of selling counterfeit products. After the items were delivered, if the trademark holders confirmed items were counterfeit or illegal, domain seizure orders were then obtained from federal magistrate judges.
Those who now visit the affected sites will now see a government notice notifying the visitor the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and information is also displayed in relation to copyright infringement being a federal crime in the USA.
Since Operation In Our Sites launch in June last year, the IPR Center has seized a total of 350 domain names and ICE states the seizure notices on those domains have generated more than 77 million individual views.
"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," said ICE Director John Morton.
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