In 2009, the automotive industry contacted the IPR Center and indicated an emerging health and safety threat related to the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit automotive parts and equipment. To address this issue, the IPR Center initiated Operation Engine Newity. Operation Engine Newity is a collaborative effort between HSI, CBP, the FBI, and other partner agencies to address threats related to counterfeit automotive parts and equipment, to include counterfeit airbags. As a result, the IPR Center has been able to develop investigative leads to provide to operational field components and produce trend analysis intelligence reporting products.
Operation in Our Sites
In June 2010, HSI initiated Operation in Our Sites (IOS), a strategic offensive targeting entities that distribute counterfeit products, pirated movies and television content through internet websites. IOS was initiated as a method to counter online criminal activity related to intellectual property crimes. By seizing the domain names, HSI disrupts the sale of counterfeit and pirated items by eliminating the point-of-sale from the criminals who are profiting. In addition, IOS serves as a tool, educating the public to the perils of counterfeit items available on the internet. This education is two- fold, through press events held in coordination with IOS operations and through the use of the IOS seizure banner.
The goal of Operation in Our Sites is to disrupt and dismantle organizations engaged in online IP theft through the use of domain name seizures, asset seizures and arrests, targeting not only individuals operating illegal websites, but also individuals utilizing legitimate websites as an avenue to conduct criminal activity. IOS has expanded from a US-based operation to a global operation with EUROPOL and their member countries conducting joint operations with HSI. To date IOS has resulted in the seizure of 2,252 domain names, 15 arrests and $3.3 million in assests seized.
Operation Apothecary was initiated in fiscal year 2004 under the auspices of Operation Guardian to combat the growing problem of internet crime. Particular emphasis is placed on the use of the Internet as the primary means of communication and ordering of pharmaceuticals. Criminals, posing as legitimate pharmaceutical providers, advertise prescription grade drugs and/or inexpensive alternatives without requiring a valid prescription. The consumer purchases the pharmaceutical with the belief that the product advertised is a legitimate product, but in fact, is often purchasing a counterfeit or unapproved version of the drug that may have been manufactured in unsanitary conditions or not subjected to any safeguards or quality control regimes. Apothecary also addresses potential vulnerabilities in the entry process that might allow for the smuggling of commercial quantities of counterfeit, unapproved, and/or adulterated drugs through the Internet, international mail facilities (IMFs), express courier hubs (ECHs), and land borders. Apothecary combines the expertise of HSI, CBP, the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. In FY 2012, HSI initiated 26 Operation Apothecary investigations, which resulted in 8 arrests, 21 indictments, 21 convictions, and 63 seizures.
Operation Team Player
Team Player is an IPR Center-led initiative that targets the sale and trafficking of counterfeit sports merchandise and apparel, a multi-million dollar criminal industry. The trafficking of these items is a lucrative business for criminals and becomes more profitable in markets involving successful and popular teams. The culmination of the sports season, all-star games and the playoffs are events that especially stimulate the sale of counterfeit items in local communities around the country.
Operation Guardian is a public health and safety initiative that combines the specific areas of expertise of HSI, CBP, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Department of Justice Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section CCIPS of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This HSI-led initiative targets, interdicts and investigates the importation of hazardous products, such as the dangers found in imported apparel, pet food ingredients, toys, seafood and other consumer products.
Operation Chain Reaction
In June 2011, HSI initiated Operation Chain Reaction to combat the proliferation of counterfeit goods into the Department of Defense and federal government supply chains. While individual agencies have focused on counterfeit and misbranded items entering the federal supply chain, Chain Reaction is the first operation that IPR Center partners have collectively addressed in this ongoing problem. Chain Reaction combines the expertise of sixteen agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation , Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Army-Criminal Investigative Command, General Services Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Air Force-Office of Special Investigations, Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Reconnaissance Office, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Interpol, Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) and the Department of Justice-Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.
Operation Joint Venture
The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center's (IPR Center) Outreach and Training Section engages in partnerships with the public and private sectors to combat Intellectual Property (IP) theft through its Operation Joint Venture initiative. This IPR Center-led outreach initiative is designed to increase information-sharing with public and private sectors to combat the illegal importation and distribution of counterfeit, sub-standard and tainted goods. Joint Venture targets rights holders, manufacturers, importers, customs brokers, freight forwarders, bonded facilities, carriers and others to discuss the IPR Center's priorities of protecting public health and safety, the economy and securing the government's supply chain.