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Intellectual Property Rights

Father and son plead guilty to selling counterfeit software worth $1 million

WASHINGTON - A father and son have pleaded guilty to selling $1 million worth of counterfeit computer software through the Internet, in violation of criminal copyright infringement laws, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia and John Morton, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced March 12.

Robert D. Cook, 56, and his son, Todd A. Cook, 23, both of Wichita Falls, Texas, pleaded guilty March 11 to criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement before U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, in Alexandria, Va.

According to court documents, from July 2006 through May 2008, the Cooks operated several Web sites that sold large volumes of counterfeit software with a combined retail value of approximately $1 million. The defendants admitted that they used these Web sites to sell downloadable counterfeit software without authorization from the copyright owners. The defendants also admitted that they promoted their illicit scheme by purchasing advertising for their Web sites from major Internet search engines.

Both defendants face up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 18, 2010.

The convictions of Robert and Todd Cook are the latest in an investigation out of Wichita Falls, in which four other men have been convicted for operating Web sites engaged in the sale of pirated software. Thomas C. Rushing III, William Lance Partridge and Brian C. Rue all pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 22, 2008. Timothy K. Dunaway pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement on Oct. 20, 2008, in U.S. District Court in Wichita Falls. Combined, the counterfeit software sold by these individuals had a retail value of more than $10 million.

The cases were prosecuted by Trial Attorney Marc Miller of the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay V. Prabhu for the Eastern District of Virginia. The cases were investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center with substantial assistance provided by the Office of the Special Agent-in-Charge in Dallas. The Wichita Falls Police Department assisted in the investigation.

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity. ICE manages the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which plays a pivotal role in the U.S. government's domestic and international law enforcement attack on IPR violations. ICE agents and CBP personnel throughout the country rely upon the IPR Coordination Center for guidance in their inspections and investigations.