Congress takes steps to shut down rogue websites

Two bills could give valuable new tools to trademark owners

Some call them “rogue websites.” They market counterfeit drugs, fake Gucci handbags and other falsely branded items. Or they stream TV shows without paying any royalties, let users swap copyright music or offer free downloads of the latest Hollywood blockbusters.

Such websites operate in many different ways and are headquartered in many different countries, but they have one common element: They are all dedicated to infringing IP rights.

Consider COICA

Congress has targeted rogue websites before. In September 2010, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, proposed the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). COICA would have empowered the federal government to use civil forfeiture laws to seize the domain names of rogue websites and to block U.S. residents from accessing foreign rogue sites with overseas domain names that could not be seized (see “COICA cracks down on rogue websites”).

House’s SOPA

The Senate bill applies to websites that have “no significant use” other than committing or facilitating copyright infringement or trademark counterfeiting. It also covers sites that are “primarily” used for such infringing acts, if the sites are designed or marketed for users to commit infringements.


Steven Seidenberg

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