Federal customs agents seize Web sites of traffickers in knockoffs
By Jerry Markon and Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 29, 2010; 2:05 PM
Federal customs agents have seized 82 Web sites accused of trafficking in handbags and other counterfeit goods, escalating a crackdown against so-called knockoffs that have increasingly moved online, the Justice Department said Monday.
The seizures, announced on the "Cyber Monday" online shopping day, targeted sites selling an array of products, including fake Coach purses, counterfeit sports equipment and even a Disney DVD set with Minnie Mouse's name spelled wrong.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, acting on seizure orders issued by federal judges in Washington and nationwide, shut the Web sites over the past few days and seized the domain names. People trying to find the sites are now directed to an ICE server, which notifies them that the domain name has been grabbed by federal authorities.
The operation, coordinated by an ICE-led intellectual property rights center in Crystal City, is the latest step in a federal crackdown on trafficking in counterfeit goods. Experts say the practice has mushroomed with globalization and the lowering of trade barriers. In recent years, low-cost knockoffs have increasingly moved to the Internet, federal investigators say.
"Counterfeiters are prowling in the back alleys of the Internet, masquerading, duping and stealing," ICE Director John Morton said at a news conference announcing the seizures, which was timed for Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season.
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| November 29, 2010; 2:17 PM ET
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