$13.6 Million in Counterfeit NFL Merchandise Seized Before Super Bowl
The penalties for producing or reselling counterfeit merchandise are severe. The trademark owner or official licensee can collect the infringer's profits, as well as sue for damages and lost profits; using hte example above, the trademark holder would collect not only the $20 profit per shirt, but could sue for the addition $80 to $230 of lost revenue on each item. Alternately, in counterfeit cases, the victim may elect to recover statutory damages of $1,000,000 per trademark.
Both the NFL and ICE warn those purchasing, or selling, jerseys and other sports memorabilia to ensure that the merchandise is authentic and officially licensed. Garment quality is one way to determine whether an item is genuine. Official Nike jerseys will have seamless stitching on the inside, while the counterfeit items often have loose or uneven stitch, or will have stray threads and burst seams. The company Fanatics, which runs official e-commerce sites for the NFL and other sports organizations, has set up a website to help consumers and sellers determine if a jersey is authentic.
"The Super Bowl is one of the nation's most exciting events," said John Morton, director of ICE, in an interview with DesertNews.com. "Organized criminals are preying on that excitement, ripping consumers off with counterfeit merchandise and stealing from the American businesses who have worked hard to build a trusted brand."
Morton advised consumers and vendors alike to ensure that products are authentic, not only to protect themselves from fraud but also to protect the market. "The sale of counterfeit jerseys and other sports items undermines the legitimate economy, takes jobs away from Americans, and fuels crime overseas," he said.