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Intellectual Property Rights

Southern California store owner arrested for selling counterfeit merchandise

Southern California store owner arrested for selling counterfeit merchandise

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The owner of a sports apparel store in Apple Valley was arrested at his business Tuesday for violating trademark protections and selling counterfeit merchandise to customers.

Following the execution of a state search warrant at his "Get In Tha Game" store, Gregory Williamson, 50, was taken into custody by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and investigators from the San Bernardino County District Attorney's (SBDA) Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit and the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.

Authorities seized 442 counterfeit items, including NFL and college football jerseys, shorts and footwear. Investigators also found phony merchandise bearing Major League Baseball, NBA, World Cup and NHL logos.

Williamson is currently charged with one felony count of possessing for sale counterfeit Nike NFL jerseys. He may face additional charges in connection with the other items seized during the execution of the search warrant.

"In this case, imitation is clearly not the sincerest form of flattery," San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said. "It's called breaking the law, and this office will continue to aggressively protect all registered brands from the likes of counterfeiters."

"People wrongly assume intellectual property theft is a victimless crime and there's no harm in buying counterfeit goods," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. "The reality is, retailers who sell counterfeit products and consumers who buy them are essentially stealing. They're robbing from law abiding merchants and from the legitimate companies that manufacture these items. What's more, counterfeiters could care less about product quality or safety – which is why we warn consumers who think brand-name knockoffs are a harmless way to beat the system and get a great deal, ‘buyer beware.'" Williamson is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 20 in Victorville Superior Court.