Homeland Security Investigating Royals Merchandise
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents removed boxes of merchandise from a store in Overland Park, Kan., after the owner was accused of violating trademarks held by the Kansas City Royals and MLB.
According to KSHB 41, the DHS agents, along with Kansas' Johnson County Sheriff's Department, removed dozens of boxes containing commemorative Royals postseason and World Series gear from SportsWear Etc., also located in Overland Park. The agents are investigating whether or not the business committed a crime by selling the trademark-infringing shirts.
Authorities told KSHB 41 that the period after major sporting events is a prime time for catching copyright violations. Agents look into possible violations following every World Series, and they often get tips from the public.
Stephen Howe of the Johnson County District Attorney's Office told KSHB 41 that his office has worked with MLB officials in the past.
"I know on a couple of occasions we've dealt with MLB on these issues," he said. "Any time you have a World Series or the All-Star Game, we've always dealt with that."
Though this copyright violation is a federal crime, the Johnson County Prosecutor's Office will likely try the case, rather than become a federal case. However, if convicted, the store's owner could face up to two years in prison per violation, as well as fines ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 per violation if the MLB or Royals pursue the case.
"It's a good warning to some of these deceptive companies that represent themselves as having the authority to use somebody's copyright, which they've worked hard to establish through the legal process," Howe continued. "It's part of the law and it should be enforced."