The infamous Silk Road Anonymous Market site is back in service, following a DDOS (“distributed denial of service”) attack on May 1, 2013. The Silk Road is sometimes referred to as “the Amazon or eBay of illegal drugs.” Trafficking in counterfeit goods is also commonplace on the site. The Silk Road is an online black market on the “deep web” which operates as a hidden service accessible only through TOR (originally called ‘The Onion Router’). TOR is a free online service for surfing the Web anonymously. Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace Internet activity by directing Internet traffic through a free, worldwide volunteer network consisting of more than three thousand relays to conceal a user’s location or usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis.
The Silk Road is sometimes referred to as “the Amazon or eBay of illegal drugs,” and counterfeit activity is also commonplace on the site.
Transactions are settled in Bitcoins on Silk Road. Bitcoin is a “peer-to-peer” virtual currency which – unlike Liberty Reserve (a Costa Rica-based centralized digital currency service that was shut down by US federal prosecutors on May 25, 2013 -has no central organization that can be taken down.
The Silk Road Anonymous Market, and Bitcoin illustrate how the nature of counterfeits has changed dramatically over the past two decades. One has moved, in this period, from cheap copies sold in Bangkok, Seoul and Hong Kong, to ‘high-end’ fakes that were almost perfect copies of genuine products. In the same period, the IP community has seen suits against Internet auction sites for the sale of fake goods, search engines for the sale of trademarked keywords, cybersquatters, counterfeit sales in the social media context. Will law enforcement be able to tackle the Silk Road or, like its online counterpart in Beijing, the Silk Market, will it be left largely untouched?