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John Morton was unanimously confirmed as the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by the U.S. Senate on May 12, 2009. ICE is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the second largest investigative agency in the federal government. During his tenure at ICE, Mr. Morton has strengthened ICE’s investigative efforts, with a particular emphasis on border crimes, export controls, intellectual property enforcement and child exploitation.
Mr. Morton has repeatedly asserted his intention as the Director of ICE was “to change the face of IP rights enforcement in this country.” And he has done just that. With his leadership and constant advocacy of tough, sensible criminal enforcement of IP rights, John has caused a sea change in enforcement against IP theft.
Since resuming his post in 2009, the department has seen an incredible increase in annual IP investigations which have resulted in arrests, more than doubling to 691 in FY 2012. The combined individual seizure events by ICE and its sister agency, CBP, of criminal counterfeit contraband has increased from approximately 14,000 in Fiscal year 2009 to 22,000 in fiscal year 2012.
One of the most successful and well-known of these initiatives under John’s leadership is Operation In Our Sites. Following a chance meeting with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mr. Morton began a law enforcement initiative to hamper counterfeiting and piracy on the Internet. Almost 3 years after their first law enforcement success, In Our Sites has been repeated twenty times by ICE resulting in court-ordered seizure of 2065 domain names of websites engaged in the sale or distribution of counterfeit goods or pirated material.
Eden Full is the Founder of Roseicollis Technologies Inc. As an aspiring product designer interested in creating appropriate technology for the developing world, Eden invented of the SunSaluter, for which she holds a patent. The SunSaluter is a low-cost mechanism that optimizes solar panels while providing clean water.
She is currently a rising junior in Mechanical Engineering at Princeton University, after taking gap years as a part of the Thiel Fellowship’s inaugural class. Named one of the 30 under 30 in Forbes’ Energy category two years in a row (2012 and 2013) and Ashoka’s Youth Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Eden aims to take the SunSaluter, to developing communities that need them. The SunSaluter won the Westly Prize, Mashable/UN Foundation Startups for Social Good Challenge and was awarded the runner-up prize at the 2011 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. While at Princeton, Eden initiated and curated TEDxPrincetonU.
Eden is the epitome of an Intellectual Property Champion. With her patented technology, she is not just creating jobs, she is combating climate change with innovative technology.
Jonathan Taplin is professor at University of Southern California Annenberg and former tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. In 1973, he also produced Martin Scorsese’s first feature film, Mean Streets, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Between 1974 and 1996, Taplin produced 26 hours of television documentaries (including The Prize and Cadillac Desert for PBS) and 12 feature films including The Last Waltz, Until The End of the World, Under Fire and To Die For. His films were nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards and chosen for The Cannes Film Festival seven times.
With roots in the entertainment industry and as director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab, Jonathan spearheaded the Online Advertising Transparency Report, which details and identifies advertising networks which may support illicit online piracy operations.
The report is important for helping companies who may be unknowingly sending their advertising dollars to the criminal operators of rogue websites, which chip away at America’s innovative and creative businesses.
In fall 2012, the combined efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Department of Justice resulted in the seizure of 686 websites selling counterfeit medicines as part of Operation Bitter Pill. The largest enforcement effort of its kind, more than 100 countries took part in Operation Bitter Pill which took place between September 25 and October 4, 2012. Bitter Pill was part of a worldwide effort led by INTERPOL known as Operation Pangea V. More than 100 countries participated with operations resulting in 79 arrests and the seizure of 3.7 million doses of potentially harmful medicine worth $10.5 million. The October sting contributed to an estimated seizure total of approximately 18,000 websites.
A yearly operation, Pangea was coordinated by INTERPOL and included the participation of the World Customs Organization, the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical Crime, the Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers, Pharmaceutical Security Institute, Europol, and for the first time, the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies. The operation shut down sites throughout Europe and the United States and raised consumer awareness about the threat of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and the increased risk of identity or credit card theft. Operation Bitter Pill involved undercover online purchases of drugs by HSI agents, who then connected some purchases and shipments to organized crime networks. Their purchases included everything from anti-cancer medication, antibiotics, and erectile dysfunction pills to weight loss and food supplements.
In September of 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection discovered six boxes containing 68 counterfeit airbags en route to Zhensong’s Chattanooga, Tennessee address. The auto parts originated in Guangyhon City in the People’s Republic of China and were produced by Guangzhou Global Auto Parts International Group Co. LTD, of which Zhensong was a partial owner and international department manager. Following an HSI investigation, Dai Zhensong was convicted for violations of 18 USC 2320, trafficking in counterfeit goods and sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $210,738 for intentionally trafficking counterfeit airbags.
The airbags seized were counterfeit versions of most of the major automotive makers and sold online for about $57 each, far less than the cost of an actual air bag. As of February 2012, over 300 counterfeit airbags worth just over $210,000 from Guangzhou Auto Parts had been seized due to the cooperative efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol—Criminal Investigations Division. This counterfeiting operation not only undermined the U.S. system of patents, copyrights, and trademarks, but it also put thousands of people at risk.
In late November 2012, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working alongside law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the European Police Office (Europol) seized 249 domain names selling counterfeit merchandise as part of Project Cyber Monday 3 and Project Transatlantic. As part of the Project Cyber Monday 3 assault on piracy, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) coordinated efforts between HSI offices in Baltimore, Buffalo, Denver, El Paso, Newark, San Antonio, San Diego and Ventura. The operation resulted in the arrest of one person and seizure of 218 domain names by U.S. authorities. As part of Project Transatlantic, European law enforcement officials coordinated the seizure of 31 additional domain names.
Using information from various trademark holders, the IPR Center and Europol disseminated tips to the participating agencies and field offices, and undercover law enforcement officials purchased various counterfeit products ranging from professional sports jerseys and other clothing, to DVDs and luxury goods from sites they suspected of counterfeiting. Officials then contacted the rights holders, confirmed the products were counterfeit, and obtained seizure orders from federal judges. These seizures were part of Operation In Our Sites which began in June 2012. Since its inception, Operation In Our Sites is responsible for the seizure of more than 2,000 domain names. As Director John Morton noted, the extensive cooperation between ICE and its international partners at the IPR Center was essential to combat this global enemy.
In March 2012, law enforcement officials successfully broke up two global counterfeiting schemes using undercover officers and court-authorized wire taps. 29 people were arrested for conspiring to circumvent federal border and port security measures at the Port Elizabeth-Newark Marine Terminal in New Jersey. These federal investigations also uncovered the attempted smuggling of crystal methamphetamine into the United States. If not for the efforts of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of New Jersey, over $300 million of illicit goods would have been smuggled into the United States, funding criminal activity and harming consumers and the economy worldwide.
The first scheme, with Patrick Siu and co-conspirators, involved the use of stolen corporate identities and false personal identification documents in an effort to move 135 crates of counterfeited goods like UGG boots, Coach and Louis Vuitton handbags, and Nike sneakers into the United States. The others arrested in the scheme were responsible for distributing and selling the goods once they entered the United States. Many of these individuals used their illicit profits to maintain rather lavish lifestyles. The second scheme, with Kow, Shen, and Chang, involved counterfeited cigarettes and resulted in charges of smuggling, counterfeiting, and drug importation, with arrests in the United States and in the Philippines.
The owner of a Memphis flea market pleaded guilty to the facilitation of the sale of counterfeit goods in June 2012 after the conclusion of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and the Memphis Police Department. Thomas Goodfellow, 71, owned and operated the Southwest Flea Market in Memphis where he facilitated the sale of over 42 counterfeit Rolex watches. The resulting investigation turned up 40 watches that would have been valued at $400,000. Undercover officers encountered Goodfellow, pretending to be interested in selling counterfeited Rolex watches themselves. After the undercover operation, HSI and other agencies obtained the proper warrants then searched the property and seized relevant findings.
Due to the volume of goods found as a result of the undercover operation, the seizures required two full days to collect and process all the goods. Officials found 75 containers along with merchandise already being displayed in the market. The total seizure resulted in over 137,000 counterfeited items worth a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of over $21.5 million. With his plea deal after these findings, Goodfellow faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as surrendering all of his interest in the property used for the flea market.