Ice Out Counterfeit during the Stanley Cup Final

Hockey fans are certainly getting their money’s worth this year. The new-kid-on-the-block Las Vegas Golden Knights claimed 51 wins in their inaugural regular season, cruising quickly through the first, second, and final rounds of the playoffs to clinch their spot in the Stanley Cup final. The Washington Capitals are beginning their first Cup appearance in 20 years and feeling the pressure of ending the dreadful D.C. title drought – aside from D.C. United, D.C. professional sports teams have not won a title since the 1992 Super Bowl.

It’s no surprise that Golden Knights and Capitals alike are searching for ways to show their team pride. Many are buying new jerseys and hats and scarves. They’re once again looking to get their money’s worth. But there’s another opportunistic group waiting at the point of purchase to make a blindside hit: criminals peddling counterfeit merchandise.

There are plenty of reasons counterfeit criminals deserve more than a trip to the penalty box.

Counterfeit items are most often of inferior quality: distorted or faded logos and graphics, seams that fall apart, and even blatant misspellings are commonplace in counterfeit trade. Some fans have even reported dyes that stain their skin and reek of a strong chemical smell.

But counterfeit isn’t just a consumer problem: it’s a business problem, too. Licensed retailers – many of which are local and regional small businesses – lose valuable market share and revenue to illicit trade. In fact, intellectual property – like the trademarked logos and slogans of our favorite hockey teams – supports more than 45 million jobs in the U.S. In D.C., 118,221 people work in IP-intensive industries; in Nevada, it’s 242,234 people.

Fortunately, the NHL is aware of the dangers of the counterfeit trade and, in partnership with federal and local enforcement agencies, is working to keep fans safe.

During the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Final, the NHL helped coordinate the seizure of counterfeit fan merchandise with an estimated retail value of $143,000 dollars. This year, experts suspect that number will rise.

Fans will see agents in action on the ground both in Las Vegas and in D.C. – but, like hockey, the fight against counterfeit has to be a team sport. The NHL is asking fans to follow this checklist to avoid counterfeit goods and to share it with their friends and families.

  • Look for an NHL hologram sticker or hangtag on retail products.
  • Check for a sewn-in or screen-printed neck label identifying a licensee that has been authorized by the NHL and make sure tags or labels are intact and not ripped.
  • Look at the overall quality. For example, check the spelling of team names and players, check the color of the garment, and the quality of embroidery or screen printing.
  • Purchase merchandise from established retailers.

With this checklist in hand, fans can be sure to dodge any cheap shot counterfeiters might try to land. We wish both teams – and both fan bases – the best throughout the Stanley Cup final.

Charles Danehey is the is the coordinator of U.S. policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center.

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