WEBSITE DOMAIN NAMES SEIZED IN THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AS PART OF CYBER MONDAY CRACKDOWN
Sites were selling counterfeit merchandise or pirated DVDs
Authorities in Seattle have seized the domain names of four websites suspected of offering counterfeit Nike and Timberland footwear, NFL Jerseys, and illegal downloads of copyrighted movies. This action is part of the second phase of a national crackdown on the sale of counterfeit and pirated goods over the Internet undertaken by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.
The local seizure orders are among those executed nationally against 82 domain names of commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works. The enforcement actions announced Monday by Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton are part of “Operation In Our Sites v. 2.0.” The operation builds upon Operation in Our Sites I, which was announced in June 2010. In that first action of this broader law enforcement initiative, authorities executed seizure warrants against nine domain names of websites offering pirated copies of first-run movies.
The coordinated federal law enforcement operation targeted online retailers of a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel and sunglasses as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software. During the course of the operation, federal law enforcement agents made undercover purchases, including in Seattle, from online retailers suspected of selling counterfeit goods. In many instances, the goods were shipped directly into the United States from suppliers in other countries using international express mail. If the goods were confirmed as counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods were obtained from U.S. magistrate judges. Individuals attempting to access the websites will now find a banner notifying them that the domain name of that website has been seized by federal authorities.
The Internet domain names disabled as the result of the locally issued seizure warrants include b2corder.com and merrytimberland.com, both of which sold counterfeit Timberland footwear. Another website mytend.com sold counterfeit Nike shoes and National Football League jerseys, as well as pirated exercise videos. The fourth website boxsetseries.com sold DVD box sets of copyrighted, popular U.S. television shows.
“Counterfeit goods cheat consumers, create safety risks and put American companies and jobs at risk,” said U. S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan, who chairs the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and Cyber Crime. U.S. Attorney Durkan further commented: “This is but one step we will take to disrupt the illegal sale of these counterfeit goods during the holiday shopping season and beyond.”
“The sale and purchase of counterfeit goods creates significant monetary loss and trade competitiveness for legitimate U.S. trademark and copyright owners,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Seattle. “The protection of intellectual property is one of HSI’s priorities and we take an aggressive posture to preserve the safety, value and integrity of authentic products.”
The nationwide operation was spearheaded by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) led by HSI, in coordination with the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and nine U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, including the Western District of Washington. Assistant United States Attorneys James M. Lord and Francis Franze-Nakamura.