292 counterfeit domains seized by law enforcement

File photo

File photo  ( REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files)

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland security Investigations and law enforcement agencies from 19 countries have seized 292 web domains that were used for the sale of counterfeit goods, according to Europol. The counterfeit products included luxury items, as well as “sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals and pirated goods like movies and music,” the BBC reports.

The operation was part of a project called “In Our Sites (IOS) Transatlantic V.” The law enforcement groups have been receiving leads since August from various trademark holders.

While no arrests have been made, those trying to visit the sites will now either come across a web page featuring information on copyright crime or will not be able to access the sites at all. A source close to the investigation told the BBC that possible arrests could be made soon and that closing the sites is a method to track down those behind the counterfeiting.

“The infringements of intellectual property rights is a growing problem in our economies and for millions of producers and consumers,” said Europol Director Rob Wainwright in the law enforcement agency's release. “Europol is committed to working with its international partners to crack down on the criminal networks responsible for this illegal activity.”

Since launching Project IOS in November 2012, Europol has seized 1829 domain names, including those taken in the most recent operation.

"Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP crime," said National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (NIPRCC) Acting Director Bruce Foucart in the joint release with Europol. “Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites."