2016's Operation In Our Sites website cull widens

Enforcement agencies have taken down 4,500 domain names selling counterfeit luxury goods, sportswear, spare parts, electronics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and other fake products.

This year's In Our Sites (IOS) operation was coordinated by Europol, Interpol and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and marks a sizeable increase on the 2015 initiative, which took down a little under a thousand domain names.

"There were roughly 15,000 illegal websites seized and 48,000 erroneous ecommerce links removed over the past year" as part of the operation, according to ICE.

Dozens of brand owners and industry organizations representing name-brand footwear and apparel, cosmetics and personal care products, active wear and sporting and entertainment associations participated in this effort, and were solely responsible for targeting listings on popular ecommerce sites selling imitation items.

Fighting the trade of counterfeit products online is a challenging and difficult task for law enforcement, said Europol.

To strengthen the fight against counterfeiting and piracy online and offline, Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) joined forces to launch the Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) in July.

The IPC3 provides operational and technical support to enforcement agencies, monitoring and reporting of IP crime, coordination of operations, standards setting and awareness raising, and has been launched with a €500,000 grant from the EUIPO.

One element of that remit took shape this week when IPC3 launched the 'Don’t F***(ake) Up' campaign, which aims to inform citizens about the risks of buying fake products online, and provide straightforward advice to help identify illicit websites selling counterfeit goods. It will also explain the means used by counterfeiters, such as fake social media accounts and fake apps.

"This year’s operation IOS VII has seen a significant increase in the number of seized domain names compared to last year," commented Rob Wainwright, director of Europol.

"This excellent result shows how effective cooperation between law enforcement authorities and private sector partners is vital to ultimately make the internet a safer place for consumers."

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