Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized several domain names for sites which are alleged to sell counterfeit products. It is unclear whether the goods were trademarked or copyrighted or both. Products seized included goods from Prada, Gucci, Breitling, Nike, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry among others.
However, this is not the first set of ICE seizures. As it turns out, in June 2010, ICE seized domain names from sites which made music, software and movies available for download. In November 2010, another round of seizures took place. Also, at the beginning of this month after UFC’s lawsuit against Justin.tv, ICE officials seized a number of websites which streamed live video. Previous blog entry here. (It seems unlikely that UFC was aware of the seizing of websites which were airing its pay-per-view events as it filed suits just weeks before the ICE seizures.)
There is a question hovering over these actions by ICE. There is current legislation in Congress that would allow for domain name seizures in the civil (not criminal) infringement context in the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (“COICA”). Will the success of ICE seizures make private enforcement more likely to pass? Will intellectual property rights holders use this remedy? What level of proof will be necessary to obtain such a remedy? Will domain name seizure be used as a preliminary remedy? Will such a remedy be forced to meet the same standards as applied post-eBay? Will the legislation pass?