The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is ramping up efforts against the illegal distribution of cell phone applications. On August 21, 2012, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, Northern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Lamkin announced a first of its kind seizure of three website domain names used to engage in the unlawful distribution of copyrighted Android cellular phone apps. All three of the domain names—applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com—now resolve to websites displaying a message warning that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.
Assistant Attorney General Breuer explained: “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.” Special Agent in Charge Lamkin added that this type of intellectual property theft “cost[s] companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications.”
According to the Department of Justice’s press release, which can be found here, the FBI conducted a large-scale operation, downloading thousands of copies of copyrighted mobile apps before seizing the three domain names. Because some of the servers storing the apps were hosted in other countries, the Department of Justice engaged its international law enforcement partners in the Netherlands and France, and was assisted in the United States by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Mississippi, Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Rhode Island and Texas.
This operation was part of a larger effort undertaken by the Department of Justice and its Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). The IP Task Force is self-described as part of a “Department-wide initiative to confront the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property (IP) crimes.” For more about the IP Task Force, please follow this link: http://www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.