In the early hours of Cyber Monday, the largest single day of online shopping in the United States, the federal government seized control of approximately 150 domain names which were deemed to be selling counterfeit goods. This adds to a total of 350 domain name seizures since “Operation In Our Sites” was launched by the U.S. Justice Department and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, among other U.S. agencies. Visitors to the seized domain names were greeted by a banner, explaining the seizure and basic violations of intellectual property rights. The seizure banners have been viewed 77 million times since the operation’s launch in June 2010.
Some have viewed this as a pointless exercise, citing the fact that these internet IP infringers will simply bounce back with another top-level domain name based somewhere else in the world. While this may be true, I think there is certain value in executing these seizures on the dawn of the largest internet purchasing frenzy of the year. I bet a lot of people were spared from purchasing faulty and/or counterfeit products, the people who were seeking cheap and fake products still found them on another site anyway, and many infringing internet dealers were pushed back. As with law enforcement in general, it is a war of attrition, and just because they did not win the battle completely, it does not mean it was fruitless.