Maybe the worst call of this year’s Big Game was the running of counterfeit goods before they were intercepted!? (Nah… “the pass” was still the worst.)

Part of the never-ending job for U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) Agents and officials is to enforce laws directed at preventing the importing of fake and unauthorized products infringing on intellectual property rights such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Not only does such illegal trade threaten the property rights of domestic and international corporations, it can pose a serious danger to individuals’ health and safety (think: imitation pharmaceuticals).

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Over $31 million in counterfeit and unauthorized products (retail value of consumer merchandise) were recently intercepted in Operations “Super Fake” and “Team Player” conducted by federal and local law enforcement authorities centered around Super Bowl XLIX.

$12 Million Seized In Cincinnati
CBP agents interdicted nearly 700 shipments of counterfeit merchandise valued at $12 million as part of a Super Bowl XLIX focused operation conducted on Jan. 26-29 at the DHL facility in Cincinnati during “Operation Super Fake.”

The $12 million is the estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price if the trademark on the merchandise had been genuine. Included in the hundreds of shipments seized are team apparel with counterfeit NFL trademark.

Operation Super Fake was led by CBP’s Mobile Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Team (MIPET), in partnership with the Apparel, Footwear and Textile Center of Excellence and Expertise, and the Port of Cleveland. CBP’s MIPET is a special task force of top intellectual property rights enforcement experts within the agency. They perform intellectual property rights enforcement operations on the front lines to prevent the entry of counterfeit goods into the United States.

fake jerseys

Fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs are among the counterfeit merchandise and clothing confiscated by teams of special agents and officers from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), CBP, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and state and local police departments around the country.

$19.5 Million From Other Nationwide Locations
Operation Team Player” began immediately following the conclusion of Super Bowl XLVIII and targeted international shipments of counterfeit merchandise as it entered the United States. Authorities identified warehouses, stores, flea markets, online vendors and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear and tickets throughout the country.

“Counterfeiting is not a game,” said ICE Director Saldaña. “It is most certainly not a victimless crime either. Whether it’s the child in Southeast Asia working in deplorable conditions, or local stores going out of business, intellectual property theft is a very real crime with very real victims. No good comes from counterfeiting American products regardless of whether they are all-star jerseys, airbags, or aspirin.”

Operation Team Player Included:
Seizure of 326,147+ items of phony sports memorabilia along with other counterfeit items worth more than $19.5 million.
52 arrests.

Understanding the economic impact of intellectual property theft, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also spreading the word about the dangers that counterfeit products pose to the economy.

High end consumer accessories continually lead the type of counterfeit products seized by estimated value. Here is a breakout from 2013 according to CBP:

counterfeit products

FY 2013 CBP Seizures by MSRP

Whereas clothing and electronics top the overall number of items seized:

counterfeit products

FY 2013 CBP Seizures by Item Quantity

According to the CBP, more than 11 million maritime containers arrive at U.S. seaports each year, along with another 10 million at land boarders by truck and 3 million by rail. Add in the air transportation arrivals for another 250 million more cargo, postal, and express consignment packages. Clearly it is a daunting task to even begin to identify and stop such illegal shipments, along with other forms of illegal cargo entering the U.S. in various manners.

Read more:
Priority Trade Issue: Intellectual Property Rights


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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.