Three Website domain names engaged in the illegal distribution of copies of copyrighted Android cell phone apps have been seized -- the first action of its kind.Â
The three seized domain names -- applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com -- are in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.Â
"Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works - including popular apps - is a top priority of the Criminal Division," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. "Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation's economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it."Â
Thousands of apps involvedÂ
During the operation, FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps from the alternative online markets suspected of distributing copies of apps without permission from the software developers who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee.Â
In most cases, the servers storing the apps sold by these alternative online markets were being hosted in other countries, and U.S. international law enforcement partners assisted in obtaining or seizing evidence stored on these servers. Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the country as part of the operation.Â
"The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the U.S government's law enforcement community," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lamkin. "These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications. The FBI, in working with its various corporate and government partners, is not only committed to combating such thefts but is well poised to coordinate with the many jurisdictions that are impacted by such activities."Â
These enforcement actions are part of the efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders.