Police from across 19 countries have seized 292 domain names of websites that were deemed to be selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting customers.
The operation, dubbed 'In Our Sites: Transatlantic V', involved Europol, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations, together with 25 additional law enforcement agencies.
Since August, Europol said the IPR Center have received leads from trademark holders regarding the infringing websites, which were then circulated to law enforcement authorities in the participating countries.
The domain names that have been seized are now in the custody of the governments involved, said Europol. Visitors who type those domain names into their web browsers will find either a banner that notifies them of the seizure and explains the regulations governing the crime of willful copyright infringement, or the visitor will not be able to access the website anymore.
According to Europol, the most popular counterfeit products concerned include the traditional luxury goods but also sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals, movies, and music.
The authorities admit that seizing websites is only one way of disrupting these operations and they are trying to find new ways of tackling the increasingly sophisticate criminals. One way is the 'follow the money' approach which is part of the EU Action Plan on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
The 292 domain names seized under Operation IOS: Transatlantic V bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1,829 since the IOS project began in November 2012, according to Europol.
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