US-based authority ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have seized more than one million domain names that were involved in distributing counterfeit items. This project, titled Operation In Our Sites, was backed by the ICE’s task force, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center).
According to ICE, the reports that they acquired from the internet bodies suggested that many fake websites carried out businesses across multiple locations. They say that this claim had to be investigated and to carry it out, they appointed the National IPR center.
Following an investigation in Louisiana, Interpol, Europol, police agencies from 26 countries and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations seized more than 33,000 domain names which sold counterfeit and hazardous products such as integrated sensors and airbags for e.g. Chinaseatbelt.com; Airbagpart.com; Chinasafetybelt.com; Fareurope.com; and Far-europe.com
Alex Khu, Director of the IPR Center says that the crackdown on IP theft was possible only after they partnered with external law enforcement agencies. He also claims that this move had to be made, since domain names that are associated with fake sites negatively impact the economy and fund organizations that are involved in criminal activities.
According to ICE, the IPR Center worked with industry organizations representing the electronics sector, luxury brand-name designers as well as film and entertainment companies. They say that ICE’s industry partners were responsible for officially seizing 1.23 million domain names and shutting more than 2.2 million erroneous e-commerce links that were present on third-party marketplaces and social media.
Khu added that the products sold by these infringing domain names included electrical components and personal care items. He concluded by saying that the IPR will take strict action against those perpetrators who offer dangerous, counterfeit goods, causing harm to the internet ecosystem.
It will be interesting to see how ICE carry out further operations, following the launch of KnowBe4’s fake domain identifier.