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October 28, 2022Washington, DC, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

IPR Center, MLB warn Astros, Phillies fans of fake merchandise, tickets during 2022 World Series

WASHINGTON – As the 2022 World Series presented by Capital One gets underway this week, fans are heading to Houston and Philadelphia to support their teams and purchase officially licensed gear and memorabilia. With high demand for merchandise during the Series, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), join MLB in cautioning fans to be on the lookout for counterfeiters attempting to sell unauthorized, knockoff products and tickets.

“Criminals who exploit baseball fans by selling counterfeit jerseys, hats, and other sports-related merchandise cause undue harm to our economy at local and national levels. Fans who spend hard-earned money to support MLB and their favorite team can be confident the IPR Center and our partners are working around the clock to ensure they are getting high-quality, officially licensed merchandise in return,” said Jim Mancuso, IPR Center director. “Remember, counterfeit products are meant to be deceptive – while they might display seemingly legitimate trademarks of trusted brands, they were likely not made to specifications of the original manufacturer and profits off these illegally produced goods usually fund other criminal activities.”

Federal authorities crack down on the illegal importation and sale of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment products through Operation Team Player, a year-round effort developed by the IPR Center.

MLB has a comprehensive anti-counterfeiting program, including official MLB holograms affixed to all officially licensed MLB products to protect fans looking to purchase genuine MLB merchandise. Counterfeiters target major events, such as the World Series, where fans are eager to take home memorable keepsakes.

To avoid being victimized by counterfeiters, the IPR Center and MLB encourage fans to:

  • Shop at MLB-authorized retail locations, such as the Minute Maid Park, Citizens Bank Park, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lids, and MLBShop.com, rather than street vendors, flea markets or other questionable sources.
  • Look for the official MLB hologram sticker or holographic hangtag and a sewn-in or screen-printed label identifying the name of the MLB licensee (e.g., Nike, Fanatics, New Era, 47 Brand, Mitchell & Ness).
  • Check for ripped tags, irregular markings, or misspellings on apparel.
  • Beware of vendors offering counterfeit paper tickets for sale. Only digital tickets will be issued to the 2022 MLB World Series in Houston and Philadelphia, and tickets should be purchased directly from Astros.com, Phillies.com, Tickets.com or StubHub, or MLB’s Official-Fan-to-Fan Marketplace.

Throughout this year’s World Series, the IPR Center is joining MLB and working closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to enforce the laws that prohibit the sale of counterfeit MLB merchandise.

Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. Trademark holder rights are violated, small businesses that purchase vendor licenses to sell official merchandise lose revenue, and consumers spend their hard-earned money on substandard products while exposing themselves to financial schemes.

Last year, IPR Center partners seized more than 267,000 counterfeit sports-related items, worth an estimated $97.8 million (MSRP), through a collaborative public-private sector operation targeting international shipments of counterfeit merchandise into the United States. Additionally, based on previous investigations into these fraud and financial schemes, federal agents have seen unsuspecting fans lose between $700 and $1,400 on fake jerseys believed to be authentic.

The estimated value of trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is between $710-$970 billion globally per year and is responsible for the loss of more than two million jobs annually, according to a recent INTA/BASCAP study conducted by Frontier Economics. Additionally, a 2020 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans report indicates that law enforcement investigations have uncovered intricate links between the sale of counterfeit goods and transnational organized crime groups; and that criminal organizations use coerced and child labor to manufacture and sell counterfeit goods.

About the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center

For more than two decades, the IPR Center, working collaboratively with its public-private sector partners, has led the effort in the government's response to combating global intellectual property theft and enforcing intellectual property rights violations. The center was established to combat global intellectual property theft – and, accordingly, has a significant role in policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, and the dark web.

To report violations of intellectual property rights, including counterfeiting, IP Theft and piracy, to the National IPR Coordination Center, visit: https://www.iprcenter.gov/referral/report-ip-theft-form.

Updated: 10/28/2022