Posted by John Morton, Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
On the eve of Super Bowl XLVI, ICE has already scored a victory. Through Operation Fake Sweep, a nationwide enforcement operation targeting stores, flea markets and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear, we seized more than 42,692 NFL trademarked items with a record-breaking value of $4.86 million – up from $3.72 million last year.
In addition we seized the domain names of 291 illegal Internet websites selling counterfeit NFL merchandise largely made overseas and 16 websites engaged in illegal streaming of live sporting events and pay-per-view events over the Internet, including the Super Bowl. This is the largest number of websites we have ever seized in a single operation.
Intellectual property (IP) thieves undermine the U.S. economy and jeopardize public safety. American jobs are being lost, American innovation is being diluted and organized criminal enterprises are profiting from their increasing involvement in IP theft.
Discerning consumers should know that counterfeiters are more pervasive and more sophisticated than ever before. The fake merchandise and the bogus websites look authentic. The prices are discounted, yet not ridiculously low. So even a savvy consumer might not realize he or she is being duped. These are new tricks of the counterfeiting trade.
In sports, players must abide by rules of the game, and in life, individuals must follow the laws of the land. Our message is simple: abiding by intellectual property rights laws is not optional; it's the law