I found this opening paragraph in a May 8 claimsjournal.com article titled Houston HSI Seizes 10 Domain Names Selling Counterfeit Cycling Products:
Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Friday seized 10 Internet domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit cycling equipment and apparel globally. The 10 seized domain names are a continuation of “Operation In Our Sites” (IOS), an HSI sustained law enforcement initiative that began in 2010. These seized domain names are now in the custody of the U.S. government. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of trafficking in counterfeit goods.
The sites were apparently selling high-end carbon-fiber bicycle frames, apparel, and shoes. The counterfeit goods had Specialized, COOLMAX®, LYCRA®, SRAM, Cervelo, and Pinarello brand names.
The affected websites:
The sites looked legit. You can use the WayBack Machine to view them as they appeared before they were shut down.
If a counterfeit product fails, the manufacturer probably won’t replace or repair it. Manufacturers protect themselves by assigning serial numbers to frames. Not so with most apparel or shoes.
My concerns are:
- Bike stuff is vulnerable to counterfeiting because it’s easy to manufacture (if you’ve invested in molds, presses, and paint equipment, or industrial sewing machines) and margins are high. I’ve been told that today’s molded carbon-fiber frames are manufactured in automated presses. One can buy an unbranded carbon-fiber China-made frame for about $700; the genuine article from a brand name manufacturer retails for $3000. So an unscrupulous seller could stick a respected name label on an unbranded frame, sell it for $2000, and make at least $1000 profit.
- What happened to trial by jury? The Feds were able to seize the domain names because ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is based in the U.S. They’re trying to seize the websites’ PayPal accounts, as well. I don’t know if these actions have been tested in the courts.
- Most larger American and European bicycle manufacturers have offshored manufacturing to Asia, so to some degree they’ve lost control of their quality and distribution, which helps counterfeiters.
An Australian article about carbon-fiber bike frame branding: Are all carbon bikes created equal?
Carbon-fiber parts — even name brand ones — can fail catastrophically: bustedcarbon.com
In May 2010 I wrote an article about counterfeit computer network equipment.
Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695