Fight Counterfeits like an All Star

The stars are suiting up for MLB All-Star week in Washington, D.C. Fans are soaking in the excitement and community inspired by the festivities: From All-Star Workout Day, to the Home Run Derby, to All-Star FanFest, to the All-Star Game itself, there’s something fun for everyone.

Unfortunately, All-Star Week is an opportunity for scammers, and particularly counterfeiters, to take advantage of unwitting consumers. Criminals will peddle counterfeit jerseys and clothing, memorabilia, and even tickets throughout the D.C. area this week – sometimes for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

These goods are most often of inferior quality. Counterfeit jerseys and clothing are marked by distorted or faded logos and graphics, seams that fall apart, and even blatant misspellings. Some fans have even reported dyes that stain their skin and reek of strong chemical smells. Counterfeit memorabilia display fake signatures and claim fraudulent histories. Counterfeit tickets won’t scan at the gate, and consumers are left standing outside.

Additionally, counterfeit criminals have distinct ties to organized crime. Not only do they funnel profits from counterfeit into further criminal activity, they often use the point of purchase to steal consumers’ identities to propel future criminal endeavors.

The prevalence of the counterfeit problem cannot be understated. Our newest study, Leveraging Intellectual Property in the Global Sports Economy, reveals that the total impact of counterfeiting on the global sporting goods market is more than $40 billion dollars; the total impact on the global sportswear market amounts to as much as $44 billion.

To counter this harmful trend, both uniformed and undercover investigators will be on the lookout for counterfeit merchandise and tickets throughout D.C. this week. You might see them around and inside Nationals Park and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, as well as at retail stores and sidewalk vendor locations.

Officials are also offering fans tools to spot any counterfeit curveballs themselves. Look for an MLB hologram sticker of hangtag on all retail products; look for a sewn-in or screen-printed neck label identifying a licensee authorized by the MLB; make sure all stickers and hangtags are intact and not ripped; and purchase merchandise from trusted, established retailers.

Most importantly, just like your favorite players at bat, trust your eye. Examine team logos and player names for mistakes, study the color and smell of the garment, and scrutinize the quality of embroidery or screen-printing. Compare the price to the average market value. Ultimately, if something seems off, take a walk.

For more information on counterfeit goods and to report the presence of counterfeit goods or other intellectual property crimes, visit the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center website.

Courtney Paul is the manager of communications for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center.

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