Brands Update: hitting where it hurts — criminal domain seizures

E-commerce tools and the anonymity offered by trading over the web have long been exploited by traders of counterfeit goods. However, law enforcement has over the past couple of years been increasingly adopting a simple tactic to fight back — taking away the domain names of pirate sites. Pioneered in the US, this tactic is now being used in the EU.

Europol announced that on ‘Cyber Monday’ (2 December), the peak online shopping day annually, it had seized some 393 domain names that were being used on sites selling intellectual property (IP)-infringing goods. This was part of a co-ordinated effort in a number of countries; on the same day, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized some 297 domain names. The tactic began in the US in 2010 as part of the moves that also led to the introduction of a national IP Enforcement Coordinator, better known as the ‘IP czar’. Hearts and minds cannot be engaged these days without a catchy name, and so ‘Operation In Our Sites’ was born…

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