WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) teamed with 10 foreign law enforcement agencies to seize hundreds of domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers.
The 706 domain names seized were set up to fool consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit items as part of the holiday shopping season.
During the last few weeks, the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR) and its international partners received leads from trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. Those leads were disseminated to HSI offices in Denver, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and Salt Lake City as well as the Belgium Economic Inspection, Belgium Customs, Denmark Police, Hungarian Customs, French Gendarmerie, French Customs, Romanian Police, Spanish Guardia Civil, City of London Police, and Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
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.
During this operation, federal law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of products including professional sports jerseys and equipment, DVD sets and a variety of clothing, jewelry and luxury goods from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products. Upon confirmation by the trademark or copyright holders that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, law enforcement officers obtained seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold these goods.