Websites selling counterfeit products seized
Government and private enterprises collaborate to help protect unsuspecting online shoppers
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized 10 websites that illegally sold trademarked cycling apparel and equipment globally. The initiative, which began in 2010, was in cooperation with INVISTA, Specialized, PayPal and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“The seizure of these domain names is an important tool in HSI’s continuing efforts to protect the consumer from sub-par and dangerous goods,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. “HSI special agents are also committed to protecting the rights of businesses that play by the rules so that they can remain competitive and support our economy.”
The seized domains infringed upon the trademark owners’ rights by providing access to counterfeit merchandise that could potentially damage a company’s reputation. INVISTA’s COOLMAX® fabric and LYCRA® fiber brands were among the counterfeit products sold on the websites.
“Cyclists demand performance and expect nothing less from the top brands in cycling,” said Denise Sakuma, INVISTA Apparel global brand director. “Counterfeit products not only damage highly regarded brands like ours, but these poor performing garments also prevent everyday cyclists from getting the most out of their rides. Identifying and stopping counterfeit products is a top priority.”
INVISTA works with authorities around the world to help protect consumers from getting scammed. ICE’s seizure is the latest effort to serve cyclists.
“INVISTA’s COOLMAX® and LYCRA® brands bring a promise of exceptional quality and performance,” added Sakuma. “When unsuspecting wearers purchase counterfeit products, they don’t lessen their expectations for quality – they only become disappointed.”
Other trademarked products sold through the websites included high-end Specialized carbon bike frames.
“Engineers at Specialized tested counterfeit frames in our lab and frankly they don’t hold up,” said Andrew Love, head of brand security, Specialized. “The products failed our impact and fatigue tests, making steering vague and loose — that is simply not safe. The counterfeiters just wanted to make a sale and had zero interest in the customer. Our product integrity and rider safety are very personal for us.”
The seized domain names are now in the custody of the U.S. government. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement. In addition to the domain name seizures, officials identified PayPal accounts used by the infringing websites. Proceeds received through the identified PayPal accounts, in excess of $90,000, is currently being targeted for seizure by Houston HSI.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities. For more information, visit: www.ICE.gov. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-347-2423.