Domain Names Seized

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 @ 03:12 PM gHale

While not a pure manufacturing automation play, in a move to protect consumers, law enforcement officials across the globe seized 292 domain names of sites they said sold counterfeit goods.

The sites were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise including luxury goods, sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals and pirated goods like movies and music, Europol officials said.

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The European Union’s law enforcement agency coordinated the seizure with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and 25 law enforcement agencies from 19 countries.

Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season to sell cheap fake goods to unsuspecting consumers everywhere, the agency said.

“Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites,” said Bruce Foucart, acting director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, DC, according to the Interpol release.

Law enforcement officials have been working since August on tips from trademark holders that led to the seizure of the domains. They are now in the custody of the governments of the countries involved in the operation, Interpol said. Visitors will not be able to access the related sites and will on some occasions see a banner message notifying them that copyright infringement is a crime.

The seizure of the domain names was part of Operation In our Sites, a U.S. initiative that began in 2012, and brought the number of seized sites to 1,829.

The law enforcement agencies involved in the operation are encouraging consumers to report counterfeit products and the websites selling them “because counterfeiting crimes result in many victims.” Sales of counterfeit products can cause revenue and tax losses, unemployment, environmental, health and safety issues for humans and animals, while also aiding human exploitation and child labor, they said.

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