U.S. ICE to Counterfeiters: Sorry, You Can’t Be My Valentine.

Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations sent Valentine’s Day cards in the form of 18 domain seizures to counterfeiters on rogue websites offering counterfeit jewelry, luxury handbags, perfumes, and other consumer goods. This is a new round of seizures in ICE’s Operation in Our Sites initiative–an ongoing program aimed at fighting back counterfeiting and piracy over the Internet. The Chamber’s Global IP Center applauds these actions as they play an important role in cracking down on IP theft that is harming our economy and costing American jobs.

Counterfeit handbags and other luxury goods are well-known to be manufactured in factories that exploit workers and child labor. An investigative article in 2010 by Harper’s Bazaar found that counterfeit perfumes contained urine, bacteria and antifreeze. Consumers looking for a cheap deal online are almost always getting more (or less) than they bargained for. The sites foisting these harmful and shoddy products are a cancer and we welcome ICE’s efforts to remove them. While note solving the problem entirely, ICE is making a difference in ensuring the Internet is a vibrant, healthy, and safe marketplace.

These actions are also timely given the upcoming hearing this Wednesday on online infringement– “Targeting Websites Dedicated to Stealing American Intellectual Property.” ICE is doing fantastic work, but their jurisdiction is limited to the United States. We need legislation to provide enhanced remedies to cut off foreign rogue sites from the U.S. market, where they threaten consumers and steal our jobs.

The bottom line is that online IP theft has a direct detrimental impact on our economy and jobs–the tune of 2.5 million jobs lost in G20 economies due to counterfeiting and piracy.

The actions by ICE to increase IP enforcement for counterfeit goods by shutting down rogue websites send a strong message to criminals that their illicit activities will not be tolerated. Some of the sites that have been seized in the past by ICE have stayed down. Others have come back on different domains, determined to continue their theft at the expense of the safety of American consumers. The problem is big and not easily solved, but the determination and perseverance being demonstrated by ICE is exactly what we need.

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