The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has worked with Europol and US authorities to help suspend hundreds of websites that were selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers.
The 690 domain names disrupted worldwide are part of project ‘In Our Sites – Transatlantic 3’, coordinated by Europol for the participating EU Member States and the Homeland Security Investigations-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington D.C. for the US.
PIPCU, representing the UK for Europol, suspended 90 websites, with Europol Member States, Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Romania and Spain suspending a further 303. The US ICE IPR Center accounted 297 domain name seizures in the US.
Superintendent Bob Wishart, from PIPCU said: “PIPCU is proud to be a part of this cross-party worldwide operation, which is committed to combating online intellectual property crime.
“The 90 websites we have suspended sends a clear warning out to anyone else who thinks they can sell counterfeit goods on the internet with little fear of ever being stopped.”
During the weeks leading up to the end of the year, the market is flooded with counterfeit products being sold at stores, on street corners, and online, not only ripping the consumer off and providing shoddy products, but also putting their personal financial information at risk. The most popular counterfeit products seized each year include headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories.
During the last few weeks Europol and the IPR Center received leads from trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. Those leads were disseminated to HSI offices in Denver, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and Salt Lake City as well as PIPCU at City of London Police, the Belgium Economic Inspection, Belgium Customs, Denmark Police, Hungarian Customs, French Gendarmerie, French Customs, Romanian Police, Spanish Guardia Civil and Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
The domain names seized are now in the custody of the governments involved in these operations. Visitors typing those domain names into their Web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.
Project ‘In Our Sites’ is a sustained law enforcement initiative that began more than three years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the Internet.