NEW ORLEANS – With basketball fans across the country heading to New Orleans this week for NBA All-Star 2014 Sunday at New Orleans Arena, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is working with U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to caution unsuspecting fans against counterfeiters attempting to sell unauthorized and poorly made knock-off merchandise.
Counterfeiters not only victimize legitimate retailers in the New Orleans area, they also take advantage of basketball fans who believe they are purchasing authentic NBA gear, only to later learn they have purchased merchandise of inferior quality. Counterfeiters target major events, such as the NBA All-Star Game, where fans are eager to take home a memorable keepsake.
"It’s been six years since the NBA last held the All-Star Game in New Orleans, which means NBA products will be at a premium throughout All-Star," said Ayala Deutsch, NBA senior vice president and chief intellectual property counsel. "Counterfeiting harms legitimate, tax-paying retailers and cheats fans out of the lasting NBA keepsakes they pay for. For NBA All-Star – a major, high-profile event that regularly attracts counterfeiters – we’re committed to arming fans with information that protects them from purchasing counterfeit products, such as merchandise and tickets."
In addition to HSI, the NBA works closely with other federal, state and city law enforcement officials, to include the New Orleans Police Department, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the New Orleans Department of Code Enforcement – who throughout NBA All-Star will enforce laws prohibiting the sale of counterfeit merchandise.
Counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses more than $200 million annually and is directly responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs per year.
Since 1992, the NBA – through its membership in the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos – has been involved in the seizure of more than 10 million pieces of counterfeit merchandise featuring the logos of various pro sports leagues, teams, colleges, and universities – valued at more than $404 million.
The NBA has a comprehensive anti-counterfeiting program to protect fans looking to purchase genuine NBA jerseys and merchandise. To avoid being victimized by counterfeiters, Deutsch urges basketball fans to:
- Look for the hologram sticker or holographic hangtag and a sewn-in or screen-printed label identifying the name of the NBA licensee (e.g., Adidas, Majestic, UNK, Mitchell & Ness, etc.).
- Shop at NBA-authorized retail locations, such as the NBA Store in NBA All-Star Jam Session at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans Arena, and official hotels – rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets or other questionable sources.
- Shop online at NBAStore.com or other NBA authorized online retailers.
- Beware of ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel.
Counterfeit goods seized this week are part of Operation Team Player, an ongoing operation spearheaded by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, DC. Team Player targets international shipments of counterfeit merchandise as it entered the United States. Authorities identify warehouses, stores, flea markets, online vendors and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear and tickets throughout the country. Fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs are among the counterfeit merchandise and clothing confiscated by teams of special agents and officers from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and state and local police departments around the country – all in partnership with the major sports leagues.
The ICE-led IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.