Intellectual property crime: counterfeit goods increasingly sold on Darknet marketplaces

20 September 2017
News Article
Press Release/News

This News/Press release is about Intellectual property crime

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Darknet markets are becoming increasingly attractive for both criminals vendors and buyers of intellectual property (IP) infringing material as they allow for anonymity, a poly-criminal environment and high profits.

In addition, certain measures taken on the surface web against IP crime, such as frequent monitoring of online marketplaces, may prompt criminals to move the trade into the Darknet. Illicit goods, including counterfeit goods, will continue to be distributed via parcel and postal services; however, the concealment and shipment methods may become more sophisticated to increase anonymity and avoid detections.

These are some of the key findings of the Europol leaflet on Intellectual Property Crime on the Darknet presented today at the Europol Intellectual Property Crime Conference on Innovative Strategies for Effective Enforcement held in Antwerp, Belgium. This document provides a concise overview of the threat stemming from the sale of IPR infringing products on the Darknet, ranging from the profile of the vendors to the different distribution channels and associated profits.

Although IPR infringing material is increasingly sold on Darknet, recent law enforcement operations have shown that those marketplaces are no longer beyond control/impunity. In June and July 2017, two of the largest Darknet markets – AlphaBay and Hansa – were taken down in an international operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Dutch National Police, with the support of Europol.

The growing online trade of IPR infringing products should nonetheless be regularly monitored, given the involvement of organised crime in such a trade, and calls for a concerted response between law enforcement and intermediaries, such as payment card providers and shipping companies.