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Intellectual Property Rights

Maryland man indicted for copyright infringement of commercial software programs

BALTIMORE - A federal grand jury indicted Naveed Sheikh, 30, of Baltimore, late yesterday afternoon for illegally reproducing and distributing over 100 copyrighted commercial software programs. The charges are the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge William Winter of ICE HSI in Baltimore, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the FBI and Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Keith A. Fixel of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division.

"Investigating those who produce, sell and distribute counterfeit products, including computer software, is an important role of ICE HSI," said Special Agent in Charge Winter. "Counterfeiters cost legitimate businesses billions in lost revenue. The illicit proceeds from counterfeiting are also routinely used to support other criminal activities in the United States and around the world."

According to the one count indictment, from February 2004 to April 2008, Sheikh infringed copyrights by reproducing and distributing over 100 copyrighted commercial software programs for which he received over $265,000. The copyrighted works are estimated to be worth millions of dollars. Sheikh allegedly advertised through his Internet website and sold infringing copyrighted commercial software at prices well below the suggested retail prices of legitimate, authorized copies of the software. Some of the copyrighted works included Microsoft Money 2006 Small Business, Adobe After Effects Pro 7.0, Veritas NetBackUp Pro 5.1, Solid Works Office 2000 Premium, Quicken Premier Home and Business 2006 and Apple iLife 2006.

The indictment alleges that Sheikh advised purchasers that software programs could be mailed to purchasers on compact discs and downloaded from the Internet. Sheikh caused the creation of DVD-Rs and CD-Rs with copyright infringing software programs and crack codes. Crack codes allow an individual to modify software to remove or disable security protections. Sheikh allegedly requested that purchasers send money orders for infringing software to a P.O. Box he maintained in Towson, Md. Sheikh also permitted customers to pay for infringing software through credit card charges and electronic fund transfers. Sheikh paid a company that hosted Internet domains to register multiple Internet domains, including ezencode.com, lazer-toners.com, and coark.net. Sheikh's computer server, which was physically located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, hosted his website. Sheikh used computers in Bel Air, Md., and other computers to contact and control his computer server.

Sheikh faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Sheikh is presently a fugitive and believed to be in Pakistan.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised ICE HSI, FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Gruber, who is prosecuting the case.

The ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against IP theft. The IPR Center allows law enforcement and the private sector jointly to address the growing transnational problem of counterfeit products. The IPR Center coordinates outreach to U.S. rights holders and conducts domestic and international law enforcement as well as coordinates and directs anti-counterfeiting investigations.

To learn more about the IPR Center, visit http://www.ice.gov/iprcenter/. The public is encouraged to report information on counterfeiting by calling (866) IPR-2060.