World Cup Counterfeiting – How Feds Fight Sellers of Fake Sports Apparel

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July 9, 2018

Counterfeiters and black market sellers are working overtime to supply fans of the World Cup Soccer Championship with knock-off jerseys and other memorabilia. Unfortunately for them, U.S. Customs and Border Control are working just as hard or harder to stop the flow of these illegal items from entering the country.

World Cup Counterfeiters Get Busted

With every major sporting event comes another tidal wave of fake t-shirts, hats, and other accessories related to the games and the teams that play them. The latest bust by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in El Paso, Texas intercepted nearly $114,000 worth of World Cup Soccer jerseys. The knock-off shirts using the names and logos of the national soccer teams of Mexico, Germany, and Brazil.

That same week, CBP officers reported other successful hauls of four shipments of counterfeit Team Mexico jerseys worth over $65,000, as well as another four shipments of fake shirts also printed with the emblems of the Mexican, German, and Brazilian teams.

Ongoing Efforts to Stop Sports Intellectual Property Infringement

The brazen international manufacturing, transport, and sale of counterfeit sports items is a growing concern for sports clubs and leagues. Although governments of affected countries are cracking down on the black market business, there is a seemingly endless supply and demand.

Operation Team Player was an excellent example of how federal law enforcement agencies are working in co-operation with sports organizations and local police to thwart counterfeiting efforts. As detailed on the U.S. Customs and Border Control website, the year-long anti-counterfeiting joint operation resulted in the confiscation of over $15 million in black market NFL goods aimed at the 2018 Super Bowl.

Members of the FBI, ICE, CBP, the Minneapolis Police Department, along with the NFL, worked together to make 65 arrests that resulted in 24 convictions. The effort prevented a total of almost 172,000 Super Bowl knock-offs from being sold to unsuspecting football fans.

These large-scale anti-counterfeiting efforts take place throughout the year. Sporting events like the Stanley Cup, World Series, and NBA Finals inspire ramped up importing of fake sports-related items, and law enforcement makes every attempt to stop it before it pays off.

Sports-related intellectual property infringement involves the names or logos of sporting organizations, leagues, teams, and even individual players. The crime of IP theft costs the rightful owners millions of dollars each year, but the problems don’t end there.

Consumers who buy these fake goods from shady sellers often jeopardize their own personal and financial information by supplying credit card information. They are then stuck with substandard products that will likely not hold up well as the piece of memorabilia they’d hope to treasure for years to come.

Official sports brands have implemented holographic marks of authenticity to help buyers distinguish the real from the fakes. While measures like these can help, it is always a case of buyer beware. Only buy from reputable, known sellers to avoid the frustration of fakes.

Helping Sports and Entertainment Brands Fight Online Fakes

Fake goods aren’t only sold outside ballparks and stadiums. Millions of illegal, unlicensed goods are sold online each year. Innovative new software solutions are now available for victims of Intellectual Property theft to help stop these unethical sellers.

CounterFind helps in the fight against online sales of counterfeit clothing, accessories, and other items by stopping social commerce ads and product listings.

This advanced turnkey technology monitors ads to find unlicensed marketers and ultimately remove the counterfeit products from the online marketplace. With guaranteed 24-hour reporting, brands can count on CounterFind to shut down counterfeit ads and listings to keep losses to a minimum. Automation of searching for trademark-infringing products in the online marketplace will save you hours of work and frustration.

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