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Bogus Golf Websites Shut Down
The U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group (the "Anti-Counterfeiting Group") reports that the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) have obtained court orders seizing the domain names of five websites that are accused of selling counterfeit golf equipment and violating U.S. copyright law.
The seizure of these sites was part of a wide crackdown by government officials against illegal trafficking in many different types of counterfeit goods. The enforcement action was referred to as "Operation in Our Sites" and announced by federal officials on "Cyber Monday," November 29.
The websites that the federal authorities seized for selling counterfeit golf products are:
Following the issuance of the court orders, each website now displays a notice on its home page stating that "[w]illful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution. Intentionally and knowingly trafficking in counterfeit goods is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to ten years in federal prison, a $2,000,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution."
According to the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, "the enforcement action taken against these websites sends a strong message that counterfeiting is a serious crime with real consequences. It also protects consumers who are defrauded by counterfeiters, as well as U.S. companies who invest substantial resources in developing high quality products." The Anti-Counterfeiting Group commends the federal authorities for taking strong action against these sites and intends to continue to pursue legal action against these and others involved in manufacturing or selling counterfeit golf products.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Group warns consumers who are shopping on-line during the holiday season that there are many other websites that sell counterfeit golf products. These sites frequently ship directly from China at prices that may look "too good to be true." According to the Group, even though counterfeit golf products may look similar in appearance, they are typically made from substandard materials and will perform poorly.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Group consists of the world's leading golf equipment manufacturers. Its members and brands include Acushnet Company - Titleist and FootJoy; Callaway Golf - Odyssey, Top-Flite and Ben Hogan; Cleveland Golf /Srixon and Never Compromise; PING; and TaylorMade-adidas Golf and Ashworth. The Anti-Counterfeiting Group was formed in 2004 to petition governments to enforce their country's laws against counterfeiters of golf equipment products. As a result of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group's petitioning efforts, dozens of successful raids of manufacturing, warehouse, assembly and retail facilities have been executed by law enforcement and civil enforcement authorities over the past six years.
For more information, contact the Anti-Counterfeiting Group's legal counsel, Wayne Mack of Duane Morris LLP, 30 S. 17th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103, (215) 979-1152, [email protected].