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Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud
06/14/2019

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ICE Homeland Security Investigations led effort to reduce the production, sale of counterfeit NBA merchandise

ICE Homeland Security Investigations led effort to reduce the production, sale of counterfeit NBA merchandise
ICE Homeland Security Investigations led effort to reduce the production, sale of counterfeit NBA merchandise
ICE Homeland Security Investigations led effort to reduce the production, sale of counterfeit NBA merchandise

SAN FRANCISO ― The 2019 NBA Finals events and games played in the Bay Area filled Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors fans with much excitement, creating a desire among many of them to commemorate their experiences with the purchase of NBA sports clothing and other merchandise. However, many unsuspecting fans could have been victims of purchasing counterfeit merchandize.

HSI’s preliminary numbers reflect that nearly 1600 counterfeit items were seized June 7th and June 13th during their investigative efforts. These items included but were not limited to t-shirts, hats, jerseys, cell phones cases, cell phone ‘pop sockets’, event passes, and tickets.

“HSI San Francisco is committed to conducting intellectual property theft investigations that not only protect the companies who have trademarked licensed products, but also the consumers who believe they are buying authentic products,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge, HSI (San Francisco and Northern California). “When fans spend their hard-earned money on tickets and merchandise, they deserve the real deal.”

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents worked collaboratively with Brand Security Corporation (BSC) Investigators and NBA officials to identify and confiscate counterfeit merchandise for sale by local vendors. Additionally, they warned event attendees of the risks associated with such purchases.

“Trafficking counterfeit merchandise/products which often have unknown ingredients or are constructed with substandard materials poses a significant public safety risk,” Spradlin explained. 

HSI and partner agencies regularly team up with state and local law enforcement during significant sporting events to search for counterfeit products.

“In addition to public safety risks, the sale of counterfeit merchandise hurts legitimate U.S. businesses, preys on unsuspecting fans who believe they are making legitimate purchases while saving a buck, and funds Transnational criminal organizations engaged in varying types of illegal activities,” Spradlin added. “Our consumers should know, this isn’t a victimless crime. We aren’t just talking about fake t-shirts here.”

These counterfeit items found on the event grounds and the surrounding area consisted of not just ‘Warriors’ and ‘Raptors’ merchandize, but much more. There were also items perpetrated as authentic products made by the NFL, Apple, Nike, and Adidas for example. HSI agents, BSC investigators and NBA officials identified the counterfeit merchandise, interviewed vendors, and removed the items from the point of sale.

HSI believes their routine presence at the NBA Finals and similar events will deter the deliberate sale of counterfeit merchandise and serve as a warning to vendors who knowingly perpetuate such sales. However, HSI continues to encourage consumers to be alert when considering such purchases.

“Shop at authorized retail locations, such as the official team stores rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions or other questionable sources,” according to an HSI press release about this year’s investigative efforts during the NBA Finals.

For more information, read a recent HSI press release about this effort.

To report IP theft or to learn more about the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center, visit the http://www.iprcenter.gov/.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/17/2019