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Over 15,000 websites suspended for selling counterfeits

  • The sites disrupted by PIPCU often sell products claiming to be from well-known brands and since October 2013, 45 per cent of these websites have been linked to footwear, 39 per cent to clothing and the remaining 16 per cent to items such as jewellery, bags and accessories.

Beginning in 2014, Operation In Our Sites tackles copyright-infringing websites selling counterfeit products including luxury goods, sportswear and electronics. This year’s operation saw 20,520 domains seized, a remarkable increase on last year’s operation, which saw 4,500 websites taken down.

The action by PIPCU was taken as part of Operation Ashiko, an initiative conducted in partnership with .UK domain registry Nominet, which targets the sale of counterfeit goods online and aims to seize the domains of infringers. PIPCU notifies Nominet that a domain is being used for criminal activity and after carrying out administrative checks, Nominet then works with the registrar to suspend the domain.

PIPCU continues to warn consumers that there’s more at stake when it’s a fake when buying fake goods online as counterfeits are often of poor quality and can be potentially dangerous. The websites themselves can also be unsafe; they can contain harmful viruses and malware and your personal information is also at risk of being compromised.

November 2017: PIPCU suspends 13,616 suspected illicit websites in 12 months

Detective Inspector Nicholas Court, of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said:

“These results demonstrate the success we have had in working closely with our partners at Europol and Nominet to disrupt criminals online.

“In light of these website takedowns and in the run up to Christmas, we would like to warn online shoppers that there’s more at stake when it’s a fake; heavily discounted products are often a tell-tale sign that something isn't right. When consumers make purchases on illicit sites, they are unknowingly handing over their personal and payment details to criminals who often use these to commit further crime.

“Since the launch of Operation Ashiko in October 2013, we have been extremely successful in removing websites selling counterfeit products. This is excellent news for both the consumer and brands and is a testament to the hard work of PIPCU.”

Director of Copyright and Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Ros Lynch, said:

“It’s great to hear that so many websites have been taken down as a result of partners working together globally to fight against intellectual property crime, in particular the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and Nominet, who have had great success in the UK.

“By collaborative working we can help protect consumers from the dangers of counterfeit goods and protect their personal information when shopping online.

We fully support PIPCU’s “There’s more at stake when it’s a fake” campaign and our own Christmas enforcement campaign goes some way in helping to address these issues.”

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