Seizure orders were executed against 150 domain names of commercial websites engaged in the alleged illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works on “Cyber Monday,” on of the busiest online purchasing days of the year. The U.S. agencies involved include the Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), and the FBI Washington Field Office.

The 150 seized domains are currently in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.

According to the Department of Justice press release, federal law enforcement agents made undercover purchases of a host of products, including professional sports jerseys, golf equipment, DVD sets, footwear, handbags and sunglasses, representing a variety of trademarks from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products. In most cases, the goods were shipped directly into the United States from suppliers in other countries. If the trademark holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods and associated websites were obtained from federal magistrate judges.

This particular operation began in 2010 and has since seized 350 domain names, 116 of which have been officially forfeited to the U.S. government. The seizures are largely based on the underlying federal criminal offenses of selling counterfeit goods and copyright infringement.

With the rising trend of purchasing goods online, in addition to the ease of purchasing online and through mobile devices and tablets, the risk of harmful websites has captured the attention of federal authorities. Cyber Monday sales were up 33% as compared to 2010, which demonstrates why federal agents decided to amp up their seizure tactics yesterday.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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