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December 1, 2014Washington, DC, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

ICE collaborates with industry and international law enforcement agencies to shutdown domain names selling counterfeit merchandise

This comes as US consumers flock to the Web for Cyber Monday shopping deals

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) teamed with industry and 24 law enforcement agencies across 18 countries to shutdown 29,684 domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers as part of Project Transatlantic/ Operation In-Our-Sites V.

The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (National IPR Center) continues to work vigilantly to protect the U.S. public from counterfeit products that pose health and safety concerns or have an adverse effect on the U.S. economy. With its industry partners, the National IPR Center initiated a coordinated effort to disrupt the operation of these infringing websites. During this past year and leading up to Cyber Monday, the National IPR Center and its partners used both criminal and civil actions to successfully shutdown websites selling counterfeit goods, significantly bolstering the overall impact of this year’s efforts. The operation demonstrates the great collaboration between industry members and personnel from the National IPR Center, who effectively worked together to combat this ever growing problem. The National IPR Center extends its appreciation to rights holders representing name brand apparel, handbags, shoes, eyewear, cosmetics, consumer electronics, athletic apparel, sporting goods, personal care products, as well as the entertainment industry. All contributed to this operation’s success.  

This is the fifth year the HSI-led National IPR Center worked with its international partners to target websites selling counterfeit products online culminating on Cyber Monday. Due to the global nature of Internet crime, the National IPR Center partnered with Europol who, through its member countries, seized top-level domains as part of Project Transatlantic/Operation In-Our-Sites V. 

“Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP crime,” said National IPR Center Acting Director Bruce Foucart. “Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites.”

Each year, the market is flooded with counterfeit products being sold at stores, on street corners and online. In this ever changing world, the Internet has facilitated the sale of counterfeit merchandise online and counterfeiters have taken advantage of the Internet to deceive, sell and ship counterfeit products directly to unsuspecting consumers.  The most popular counterfeit products seized each year include headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories, according to the National IPR Center.

“The infringement of intellectual property rights is a growing problem in our economies and for millions of producers and consumers. Europol is committed to working with its international partners to crack down on the criminal networks responsible for this illegal activity,” says Rob Wainwright, director of Europol.

The HSI-led National IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the National IPR Center uses the expertise of its 23-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the National IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.

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