With NBA Finals Underway, ICE Reminds Consumers to Avoid Fouling Out With Counterfeit Products

On Friday, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which operates within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), issued a warning to the public about counterfeit tickets and sporting items. The NBA finals, which are currently taking place in Toronto and San Fransisco, provide a high-profile event to remind consumers about the dangers of these products.

According to the International Trade Administration, counterfeit goods and piracy – the illegal streaming of copyrighted content, costs the U.S. around $250 billion and 750,000 jobs annually.

When these products are not obtained legally, in the marketplace, numerous issues arise. First and foremost, the intellectual property rights of the rights holders are infringed upon. Those who have created content and products are not being compensated when counterfeits are being sold. This decreases the incentive for other creators and innovators to enter the marketplace.

In context of the NBA that product is the intimate relationship between the league, the team, and the fans. Counterfeit goods are also usually made of lower quality materials, sometimes so shoddy that they can cause serious life threatening injuries as is often the case with makeup. To unsuspecting fans, such poor quality products could communicate that their favorite team doesn’t think much of them at all, thus damaging the relationship. These lower quality products are not what fans expect when they purchase goods that they believe are authentic from a team that genuinely appreciates their support.

Fans that suspect sport memorabilia is just a cheaper, no-harm-done, product benefiting independent retailers should think twice. Counterfeit products are only made possible by illicit supply chains of laborers, thieves, and financial networks. Often criminal syndicates and terrorist organizations, not mom-and-pop stores, are the only networks large enough to manage such complex black market operations. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, for instance, have turned to counterfeit goods in order to support their operations.

While consumers are rightly focused on the epic series between the Raptors and Warriors, they can be sure to get a slam dunk on sports products and tickets by sticking to some essential tips from ICE: shop only at official team stores and licensed retailers, be on the lookout for irregular markings on apparel, and if a price seems too good to be true- it probably is.

Following these tips can help consumers avoid lower quality products, stay safe, and protect brands from counterfeits products that infringe on their intellectual property rights.



Photo Credit: UK Home Office