U.S. Authorities Seize Three Mobile App Websites

U.S. law enforcement officials for the first time seized three website domains allegedly used to distribute copyrighted mobile phone applications.

“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,” Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a statement.

The Justice Department, FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Georgia announced the seizure today as part of a crackdown on infringement of copyrighted mobile phone applications. The three website domains -- applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com -- now belong to the government and visitors to those sites will be greeted with banners announcing the seizure.

The move is part of an effort by the Justice Department’s Task Force on Intellectual Property and comes after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents downloaded thousands of copies of copyrighted applications for wireless devices using Google Inc.’s Android operating system, according to the Justice Department.

U.S. officials got nine search warrants in six different U.S. districts, and law enforcement officials from France and the Netherlands helped in the seizure.

“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,” Brian D. Lamkin, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Atlanta field office, said in a statement. “These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications.”

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