Federal Courts Order Seizure of 150 Website Domains

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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 eighth Operation In Our Sites, a law enforcement initiative to protect consumers by targeting counterfeit and piracy on the Internet.

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.

Since the operation’s June 2010 launch, the IPR Center has seized a total of 350 domain names, and the seizure banner has received more than 77 million individual views. Of the 350 domain names seized, 116 have now been forfeited to the U.S. government.

The operation 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.