The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) section of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began Operation in Our Sites in June of 2010 to target websites that attempt to sell counterfeit and pirated goods to unaware consumers.
"The sale of counterfeit U.S. brands on the Internet steals the creative work of others, costs our economy jobs and revenue and can threaten the health and safety of American consumers," said ICE Director John Morton. "We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when counterfeit goods are trafficked."
The seizures include sites that sell clothing, jewelry, sporting goods, luxury goods such as designer shoes handbags and sunglasses and pirated goods, including DVDs, music and software.
Operation in Our Sites operates year round, but it has made Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year, the largest seizure day of the year. ICE was joined in the crackdown this year by Europol and European law enforcement agencies in Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania and the United Kingdom.
The seizures are made after the government receives verification from owners of trademarks and copyrights that a specific website is selling goods that infringe upon their rights.
Once the government has shut down the infringing site, consumers attempting to visit the site will only see a banner notifying the consumer of the seizure. The banner also provides information on the infringement for the consumer.
Among this year's seizures was a San Diego based company, Staxxs on Deck. On its website at www.23isking.com the company sells counterfeit Nike footwear. According to the affidavit, the website had made $1.5 million in fake goods.
This years crackdown resulted in one arrest and more than $175,000 in PayPal account seizures. Despite this, the government has a hard time prosecuting the operators of most infringing sites since they are generally located overseas, mainly in China.
When the website is seized, owners can file a petition for a return of their domain name. If the owners choose not to file the petition or it is unsuccessful, the domain name is forfeited to the government.