November 29, 2010, 2:42 PM

Feds crack down on online sales of counterfeit goods

Government seizes 82 domain names of web sites allegedly selling phony or pirated items.

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In a move timed to coincide with a major online shopping day, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today it had seized the domain names of 82 web sites selling counterfeit goods or pirated movies, music and software.

“As of today—what is known as “Cyber Monday” and billed as the busiest online shopping day of the year—anyone attempting to access one of these web sites using its domain name will no longer be able to make a purchase,” said attorney general Eric Holder in announcing the seizures. “Instead, these online shoppers will find a banner notifying them that the web site’s domain name has been seized by federal authorities.”

Holder said the government acted after federal agents made purchases of counterfeit or pirated goods from the e-commerce sites. Many of the items came from abroad, he said.

The Justice Department called the effort Operation In Our Sites 2.0, and said it built on the first Operation In Our Sites in June that resulted in the government seizing nine domain names of sites allegedly selling pirated copies of first-run movies.

Holder says the government is committed to thwarting the theft of intellectual property. “For far too long, the theft of innovative ideas or sale of counterfeit, defective, and dangerous goods has been perceived as ‘business as usual,’” he said. “Not anymore.  IP crimes threaten economic opportunities and financial stability.  They destroy jobs.  They suppress innovation.  And they can jeopardize the health and safety of the men and women we are sworn to protect.”

The sites seized sold sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel and sunglasses as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software, the Justice Department says.

Many of the domains seized apparently tried to pose as legitimate by building their URLs around well-known brand names, such as Louis Vuitton, Coach, Timberland and Burberry. Among the domain names shut down are TimberlandLike.com, TheLouisVuittonOutlet.com, BurberryOutletShop.com and CoachOutletFactory.com. There were also several sites aimed at enticing consumers searching for movies on DVD, such as DVDOrderOnline.com, DVDSCollection.com and DVDSetsOnline.com.

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