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Law Enforcement Seizes 292 Domains Selling Counterfeit Products

December 03, 2014

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, in coordination with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and law enforcement agencies from 19 other countries have seized 292 Web domains that were used for selling illegal counterfeit merchandise, according to a recent statement from Europol. The operation was made part of a larger project called “In Our Sites (IOS) Transatlantic V.”

The countries partnering with Europol for the project are Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the United Kingdom. The United States participates through the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (NIPRCC) in Washington, D.C.

Trademark holders have been providing law enforcement groups with the majority of the leads; this batch consists of leads dating back to August 2014. The seized domain names are now in the custody of the involved governments, who have either blocked the websites or replaced them with an informational banner that includes educational material regarding willful copyright infringement. No arrests have been made at this time, but Europol has not ruled out the possibility if the persons behind the websites are located in the future.

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

Europol noted that in addition to the most common category of luxury goods, the websites dealt mainly with counterfeit sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals and pirated movies and music. The 292 seized under Operation IOS V brings the total number of domain numbers seized under the IOS project to 1829 since its establishment in November 2012.

“Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP crime,” said Bruce Foucart, NIPRCC Acting Director. “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.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle