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Feds crack down on online stolen intellectual property

In this busy holiday season, many retail shops in New Jersey are looking to boost their sales and turn a profit. Many businesses do this by turning to the Internet. Using the Web, businesses can open their merchandise up to a wide variety of customers from around the world — far beyond what a traditional store can reach. However, with the Internet comes the possibility that other people and businesses will steal a company’s intellectual property.

The federal government takes this issue very seriously. Recently, federal officials seized 132 domain names for online stores selling counterfeit goods. These goods included knockoff cologne, sports jerseys, DVDs and other types of consumer goods. These businesses were prevented from operating on so-called Cyber Monday, when Americans spend around $1.5 billion online shopping.

This seizure came after an international investigation conducted by Homeland Security offices from around the United States, including the New Jersey office, and included agencies from around Europe. Much of the counterfeit items were manufactured in China.

The items in this case are protected by intellectual property laws. They may either be copyrighted material or be subject to patents. In either case, the owners of the intellectual property have a right to all profits made on these items. According to investigators in this case, when these laws are violated businesses can lose profits and ultimately jobs can be lost.

All businesses, especially those that have an online component, need to protect their intellectual property. In situations where a person or company wants to use another’s intellectual property or business concepts, agreements can be drafted so that the arrangement is profitable for everyone involved.

Source: Asbury Park Press, “Feds seize 132 domain names to stop knockoff sales,” Carolyn Thompson, Nov. 26, 2012

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