DETROIT - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials today announced a partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL) to identify and seize counterfeit goods during the Stanley Cup Finals.
As the NHL prepares to award the Stanley Cup to the winner of the Detroit Red Wings/Pittsburgh Penguins series, ICE will be working closely with the NHL to patrol the Detroit area in search of counterfeiters selling "knock-off" merchandise and any other unauthorized use of trademarks owned by the NHL or participating institutions.
This type of counterfeiting is typically seen during high-profile sporting events like the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NHL All-Star Game, and the NHL Winter Classic. Exactly six months ago, on Jan.1, during the NHL Winter Classic in Chicago, thousands of counterfeit products, including T-shirts, hats, and sweatshirts with pirated trademarks, were confiscated.
Since 1993, the NHL - through its membership in the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos (CAPS) - has been involved in the seizure of more than 9 million pieces of counterfeit merchandise featuring the logos of various professional sports leagues and teams, colleges and universities. The seizures are valued at more than $329 million.
"The enforcement of America's counterfeiting laws is about protecting the rights of those who play by the rules and keeping sub-par and unsafe merchandise off our streets and illicit funds out of the hands of organized criminal groups here and abroad," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Detroit. "Major events such as the Stanley Cup Finals provide a great forum for us to educate the public about the hidden and often misunderstood dangers of intellectual property rights crimes."
"The better a team performs on the ice, the more appealing its name and logo become among fans and counterfeiters alike," said Tom Prochnow, NHL Enterprises group vice president, legal and business affairs. "Fans may think they're purchasing a T-shirt or jersey in support of their favorite team but, in reality, they're only supporting counterfeiters."
"We want our fans to understand that you get what you pay for when it comes to counterfeits," added Prochnow. "A counterfeit T-shirt is not a keepsake if it contains a typo or shrinks three sizes when you put it in the laundry."
Counterfeiting or intellectual property rights (IPR ) violations involve the illegal use of trademarks, trade names and copyrights. It is estimated that U.S. industries alone lose $200 to $250 billion to counterfeiting annually.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for manufacturing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE and the NHL are committed to protecting legitimate businesses involved in the manufacturing, importation and distribution of licensed commodities from unscrupulous counterfeiters.
In pursuit of this goal, law enforcement in Detroit is soliciting the assistance of legitimate NHL sponsors, licensees, manufacturers, importers and retailers of authorized NHL merchandise, as well as the general public, to identify, interdict and enforce our nation's IPR laws.
Anyone with information related to counterfeit NHL merchandise is encouraged to contact law enforcement. ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline takes tips at (866) DHS-2ICE.
ICE manages the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which plays a pivotal role in the U.S. government's domestic and international law enforcement attack on IPR violations. ICE agents and CBP personnel throughout the country rely on the IPR Coordination Center for guidance in their inspections and investigations.