Announced earlier today out of Nevada, Judge Kent Dawson ordered that luxury goods designer Chanel now has the legal right to seize domain names of over 700 sites that are attempting to sell counterfeit Chanel products. These domain names can be taken over by Chanel and transferred to domain registrar GoDaddy. All pages would then be redirected to an online notice of the seizure. The federal judge also ordered that all search engines and social networks “de-index” the sites in question. Sites specifically named in the ruling include Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. None of the site owners have the right to contest the removal of the domain from search engines or contest the transfer of ownership until after the domains are seized.
According to Arstechnica, an additional 228 sites were seized earlier this month after an investigation was presented to the courts. The investigation involved a private investigator hired by Chanel to make purchases on a sampling of the sites. The investigator ordered counterfeit items from approximately one percent of the sites on the list in order to provide proof of illegal activity to the courts. The judge made no indication on a timeline for de-indexing the domain names from search engines and Google still lists the mentioned domain names within search results. The judge also didn’t explain how search engine companies and social networks should censor the links outside of the United States. It’s also highly unlikely that social networks will be able to filter links that are using third party URL shortening services.
Similar to the result of this court case, the U.S. government also executed seizure orders on 150 domains that were proven to be selling illegal, counterfeit goods. Since the launch of the program, over 350 domain names have been seized by federal authorities.