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June 3, 2022Washington, DC, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

IPR Center, NBA warn Warriors and Celtics fans of fake merchandise, tickets during 2022 NBA Finals

WASHINGTON – As the 2022 NBA Finals tip off this week, fans from all over are heading to San Francisco and Boston to support teams and purchase authentic gear and memorabilia. With high demand for merchandise during this year’s matchup, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), including with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, joins the NBA in cautioning fans to be on the lookout for counterfeiters attempting to sell unauthorized, knock-off products and tickets.

“Criminals have been known to exploit fan enthusiasm during major sporting events by selling counterfeit jerseys, hats and other sports related merchandise to unsuspecting consumers,” said Jim Mancuso, IPR Center Director. “Fans who spend their hard-earned money can rest assured the IPR Center and its partners are working around the clock to ensure they are getting only genuine, high-quality officially licensed NBA merchandise.”

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.

The NBA has a comprehensive anti-counterfeiting program, including the official NBA hologram that is affixed to all authentic NBA products, to protect fans looking to purchase genuine NBA merchandise. Counterfeiters target major events, such as the NBA Finals, where fans are eager to take home memorable keepsakes.

“In San Francisco, Boston and beyond, counterfeiters take advantage of consumers who want genuine, quality NBA merchandise and tickets – and take away from their overall NBA Finals experience,” said Ayala Deutsch, NBA Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel. “Fans deserve memories and authentic mementos that last. At the NBA Finals, like all NBA events, we’re implementing our extensive anti-counterfeiting program to help protect both fans and legitimate, tax-paying retailers from being victimized.”

To avoid being victimized by counterfeiters, HSI and the NBA encourages fans to:

  • Shop at NBA-authorized retail locations, such as the Chase Center, TD Garden, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lids, and NBAStore.com, rather than street vendors, flea markets or other questionable sources.
  • Look for the official NBA hologram sticker or holographic hangtag and a sewn-in or screen-printed label identifying the name of the NBA licensee (e.g., Nike, Fanatics, New Era, 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 NBA Finals in Boston and San Francisco, and tickets should be purchased via the NBA Events App and NBAEvents.com.

Throughout this year’s NBA Finals, the IPR Center is joining the NBA in working closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners who will be enforcing laws prohibiting the sale of counterfeit NBA merchandise.

Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. Rights holder trademarks are violated, small businesses that purchase expensive vendor licenses to sell authentic merchandise lose revenue, and consumers, duped by counterfeiters, spend hard-earned money on substandard quality items. Most importantly, consumers unnecessarily fall prey 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.

Since 1992, as a member of the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos (CAPS), the NBA has been involved in the removal of more than 12.7 million total pieces of counterfeit merchandise featuring the logos of various pro sports leagues, teams, colleges, and universities, collectively valued at more than $549 million. Throughout the past nine years, together with the NHL, MLB, Collegiate Licensing Company and collegiate institutions, the NBA has successfully pursued legal proceedings resulting in the shutdown of more than 21,000 domains selling counterfeit sports merchandise.

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 report from the United States Department of Homeland Security Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans 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 combat global intellectual property theft and enforce intellectual property rights violations. The center was established to combat global intellectual property theft – and, accordingly, has a significant role policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, and the dark web.

About CAPS

The Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos (CAPS) is an alliance formed by Collegiate Licensing Company, LLC, MLB Properties, Inc., NBA Properties, Inc., NFL Properties LLC, and NHL Enterprises, L.P. in 1992 to address common trademark protection and enforcement matters of its members. For more information, call 1-800-TEL-CAPS (835-2277) or visit www.capsinfo.com.

Updated: 06/09/2022