US Government Orders 150 Domain Seizures Coinciding With Cyber Monday

In what the US government perceives to be part of an ongoing crackdown on counterfeit goods sold online, it executed seizure orders against 150 domain names for websites offering fake goods for sale.The websites were allegedly selling counterfeit goods including shoes, purses, sunglasses and sports jerseys with the actions coinciding with the Cyber Monday holiday shopping day.Some of the domain names seized included,,,, and however authorities say they have difficulty in prosecuting some of the website operators as they are located in China.The seizures were part of Operation In Our Sites held in conjunction with the Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and the FBI Washington Field Office.”Most of the actual counterfeiters and criminals involved are overseas and they’re using the Internet as a means to defraud consumers here without actually having to set up shop on US soil,” John Morton, head of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, told reporters.Registrants and website operators have 60 days to challenge the seizures in US courts, although in the past, of the 200 domain names seized, very few of the seizures have been challenged.The 150 seized domains are currently 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 wilful copyright infringement is a federal crime.In November 2010, 82 websites were seized during the Cyber Monday-related operation. 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 federal forfeiture process affords individuals who have an interest in the seized domain names a period of time after the “Notice of Seizure” to file a petition with a federal court and additional time after the “Notice of Forfeiture” to contest the forfeiture. If no petitions or claims are filed, the domain names become property of the U.S. government.”Through this operation we are aggressively targeting those who are selling counterfeit goods for their own personal gain while costing our economy much-needed revenue and jobs,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Intellectual property crimes harm businesses and consumers, alike, threatening economic opportunity and financial stability, and today we have sent a clear message that the Department will remain ever vigilant in protecting the public’s economic welfare and public safety through robust intellectual property enforcement.””For most, the holidays represent a season of good will and giving, but for these criminals, it’s the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers,” said Morton. “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.””The sale of counterfeit goods cheats consumers and robs legitimate businesses – both large and small – of the fruits of their hard-earned work,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “We will not tolerate those who seek to profit by abusing the Internet and stealing intellectual property at the expense of authors, artists and inventors. The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively to combat intellectual property crime.””The theft of intellectual property, to include the trafficking of counterfeit goods, creates significant financial losses,” said FBI Section Chief Zack Miller of the Cyber Division. “The FBI aggressively pursues intellectual property enforcement through traditional investigative methods, intelligence initiatives and coordinated efforts with private industry and domestic and foreign law enforcement partners.”
On a separate case, Wired is reporting that “after a series of one-sided hearings, luxury goods maker Chanel has won recent court orders against hundreds of websites trafficking in counterfeit luxury goods. A federal judge in Nevada has agreed that Chanel can seize the domain names in question and transfer them all to US-based registrar GoDaddy.””The case has been a remarkable one. Concerned about counterfeiting, Chanel has filed a joint suit in Nevada against nearly 700 domain names that appear to have nothing in common.”

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