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Feds Grab 163 Web Sites, Snatch $21.6 Million In NFL Counterfeit Gear 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the without-expressed-written-consent dept.
coondoggie writes: "As they have for the past few years the US Customs department teamed with the National Football League to cut into the lucrative counterfeit sports gear market. In what the feds called 'Operation Team Player,' special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and officers from Customs and Border Protection worked with the National Football League (NFL) and other sports leagues along with law enforcement agencies to identify illegal shipments imported into the U.S., as well as stores and vendors selling counterfeit trademarked items."
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Feds Grab 163 Web Sites, Snatch $21.6 Million In NFL Counterfeit Gear

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:10AM (#46117827)

    title says it all

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      The AFL-CIO, and any other union for that matter, is a non-profit organization with a lot of pull.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      The Feds involved cooperated so much for the PUBLICITY!
      Had it been some other copyright infringement, it may not have even happened.
      THIS, however, so close to the bowl, generates FREE PUBLICITY in the media.
      Kind of like when they send in a SWAT team to a K.C. burb to bust a yuppie household for marijuana because they ordered hydroponic equipment off the internet.
      No pot found, but they DID send those teabags to the lab and found themselves a whole lotta PUBLICITY, yup, the good ol boys, cleanin up the county

      • by pnutjam (523990)
        This goes back to a point I have made repeatedly. Wealthy people and corps should pay more taxes because they use our legal framework more often (and it's usually crafted to their benefit).
        • Wealthy people and corps should pay more taxes because they use our legal framework more often (and it's usually crafted to their benefit).

          They generally DO pay more taxes. The question is whether they pay a fair amount. What constitutes a "fair" amount is the matter under debate.

          • by pnutjam (523990)
            Thank you for your (invalid) point and the straw man arguments I see you have seeded through this discussion.

            I'll have to tag this as one of Commissioner Goodell's accounts.
            • by sjbe (173966)

              Thank you for your (invalid) point and the straw man arguments I see you have seeded through this discussion.

              As opposed to your content free non-rebuttal?

              I'll have to tag this as one of Commissioner Goodell's accounts.

              Right. I'm sure Roger Goodell spends a lot of time on slashdot worried about what a bunch of nerds think of the NFL.

          • A rich person pays more taxes in dollar amount than a middle-class person, sure, but in proportion to income the middle-class person is likely going to pay more. Whether corporations should pay income taxes is another discussion (they should and do pay property taxes).

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            The taxes in the USA are regressive. As a top 10% wage earner, I paid about 10% in federal income tax, less than 20% total tax (including all federal, state, and local taxes). And the wealthy (the 1% people talk about) often pay much less than that, some even getting tax rebates. And most of the value of taxes goes to the rich.
      • So now they can put on their cars:

        "ICE is the official police force of the NFL"
    • by Tokolosh (1256448) on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:53AM (#46119613)

      There is a petition for that, with over 300,000 signatures. Go and add yours.

      http://www.change.org/petition... [change.org]
      http://www.sacknfltaxbreaks.or... [sacknfltaxbreaks.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:21AM (#46117853)

    Probably made in the exact same factory by the same people.
    I love how they call it counterfeit, like it's somehow of lesser quality than the chinese shit they sell themselves.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      It quite well may be. One thing the Chinese do on request is quality control. The same factory churning out cheap electronics may very well be the same factory assembling expensive quality gear. The difference is the "counterfeits" may be the result of a skeleton crew working after hours to produce goods off the books. The first thing they get to do is ditch the oversight and quality control.

      It may well be the same product from the same factory but that doesn't necessarily mean the quality is the same. And

      • by westlake (615356)

        It quite well may be. One thing the Chinese do on request is quality control.

        The other side of the coin is that legitimate Western retailers and corporate partners like the NHL don't like being called out for labor abuses abroad.

      • by tompaulco (629533)
        Or it may well be that the quality control on the counterfeit merchandise is HIGHER than the QC for the official NFL. Just because the counterfeit is cheaper in price doesn't mean it is lower in quality. 90% of the price of the merchandise is the logo.
        • Or it may well be that the quality control on the counterfeit merchandise is HIGHER than the QC for the official NFL. Just because the counterfeit is cheaper in price doesn't mean it is lower in quality. 90% of the price of the merchandise is the logo.

          Two problems with that. First is that if you haven't addressed the free rider problem [wikipedia.org]. There are lots of costs besides simply the cost of manufacturing the good. Advertising, distribution, brand building, R&D, marketing, etc. These are very significant and the counterfeiters do not have to pay them but still reap the benefits of them. That is a HUGE problem and is 100% of the reason we have patents and copyright.

          The second is that the reason the logo has value is because of the relationship between

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            I agree with you but caution your use of that analogy.

            To complete your analogy you'd have to state that your education took 5 minutes and cost you almost nothing. That changes the equation a bit, especially regarding corporate empathy.

            Honestly I find it very hard to side with a company who lives up to nothing but it's name. This isn't years of hard effort, it's 5 minutes slapping a logo on a shirt often within restrictions of a strict set of colours and patterns which may be used. I don't really feel for th

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            There is no free rider problem. That billionaires are whining about some Chinese shop making $0.10 off a shirt that didn't give the NFL billionaires 90% profit isn't a "problem". Are you asserting that the counterfeit merchandise manufactured in China is shipped by the NFL, then stolen in the USA for sale?

            You are defending the billionaire's loss, when we don't see one in the first place.
    • Many are indeed run off on the same machines that make the official product. This is, of course, a much graber problem for car or aircraft parts (which may often use cheaper metals) than shirts (though have you seen the average football fan lately?)

    • I love how they call it counterfeit, like it's somehow of lesser quality than the chinese shit they sell themselves.

      It might be the identical product off the same line but when you buy something you aren't just paying for the good itself. You are paying for a brand and what that implies including the entire process of how that product is delivered to you and who stands behind it if there is a problem with it. Counterfeit goods are a problem because of the free rider problem. If you can solve that problem then you might have a point.

      The problem is that those people selling it out the back door don't have to pay for adv

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The problem is that those people selling it out the back door don't have to pay for advertising, product development, brand development, R&D or any of a number of other costs that make it worthwhile to sell that product in the first place.

        That's not the actual problem. The buyers that are buying it out the back door generally know that it is counterfeit. They are generally aware that the guy selling out of his hatchback is NOT selling "official" merchandise. The customers aren't getting deceived or de

  • When was the last time we heard about a 21 million dollar drug bust?
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:28AM (#46117883)

    Because counterfeit football merchandise is such a "clear and present danger" that it rates diverting resources from, you know, actual crime like bank robbery and human trafficking. Maybe the NFL should be made to hire its own private security for this kind of stuff so public law enforcement can get back to protecting the public!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why are you upset at customs agents doing their jobs?

      • by lxs (131946)

        Because it's a pointless job.

      • Re:Priorities (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sjames (1099) on Friday January 31, 2014 @04:04AM (#46118009) Homepage

        Probably because they only seem to do their job for things like this. Toxic pet food gets through just fine.

        • by operagost (62405)
          This. A few hundred pets die from melamine every year, and life goes on.
          • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
            You do understand that the dog food is legally imported, right? Customs prevents illegal importation. The people you should be upset with are the FDA and the companies sell the dog food.
            • by sjames (1099)

              Customs is also supposed to prevent importation of tainted goods. For example, shoes are legal to import, yet [huffingtonpost.com]...

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Why are you upset at customs agents doing their jobs?

        Because their job is to prevent dangerous contraband from entering the country.

        Instead, they are wasting the taxpayers' money doing bidding for private companies -- to attempt to curtail unauthorized sports memorabilia.

    • so public law enforcement can get back to protecting the public!

      Will Goldilocks let down her hair too?* The modern state exists primarily to protect corporate profits. Anything else it does is just window dressing to set a level of tolerance among the people to perpetuate that state despite it acting against their best interests. This story is _entirely consistent with expectations_.

      "Why, that can't be true - if it were, there'd be a Snowden briefing on that! Oh."

      (* yes, I know, it's not right)

      • The modern state exists primarily to protect corporate profits. Anything else it does is just window dressing...

        I'll admit to being curious about how you manage to make a living.

        • Corporations can exist, and employ people, without owning the government like they do now.
          • by 0123456 (636235)

            Corporations can exist, and employ people, without owning the government like they do now.

            They can only do that when government is so small as to make no difference. Big business and big government are two parts of the same organism, and rarely exist without the other.

            If the fastest way to get rich is to have your friends in the government give you billions of dollars of taxpayers' money, that's how many big corporations will make their living.

            • They can only do that when government is so small as to make no difference.

              You know, I keep hearing this claim, because a certain segment of the population cuddles the talking point to their breast like a teddy bear, but you know what? I've never seen any empirical evidence that there is any truth to the claim whatsoever. And in fact, I think it's false.

              I think that a government that is radically smaller than the largest organization it is supposed to regulate is incapable of regulating that organization because it can't keep up. For evidence, I point to the current state of af

              • I've never seen any empirical evidence that there is any truth to the claim whatsoever. And in fact, I think it's false.

                Never seen as distinct from not found? Think as the result of reductive reasoning or just as a poor synonym for imagine?

                I imagine that a government that is radically smaller than the largest organization it is supposed to regulate is incapable of regulating that organization because it can't keep up.

                FTFY

                Unless... government "regulation" effectively licenses monopolies that stops the market from self-regulating business.

                I'm not sure if you're just a amateur sophist or a moron - but arguing that government regulation of business requires it to duplicate every single aspect of the business, therefore requiring the regulation process to match the size of business being regulated, is just, um, doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

                For evidence, I point to the current state of affairs. I say, our bank regulators are understaffed. There should be more people with more government jobs specifically to regulate the banks, and because the part of the government that is supposed to do that job is so small, it's helpless to rein in behemoth multinational banks that can generate paper faster than a regulator can read it.

                A selective interpretation that doesn't even allow for history is not evidence (it's just piss poor rationalisation). Government regulation of banks mostly amounts to stopping banks being competive. Historically government intervention was to remove the usury limitation that stopped banks charging more than 10% interest. Prior to that the loan sharks were the mob, now credit cards charge up to 30%. Those trillions "generated" are just transfers from Main St to Wall St, smoke and mirrors.

                You want your small government? Forbid megacorporations. Forbid too-big-to-fail.

                How do megacorporations exist without government - you know? Like American Fruit or West Indies Trading existing with the respective governments taking their money and supplying them with armies (probably some modern parallel but I can't any evidence with this box on my head). And excuse me for extrapolating but.. wouldn't the increased regulation to do that, um, increase government size. Not that I'm accusing you of sophism but... if it smells like a stawman sometimes you need to test if it's really straw (and my only tools are matches).

                As for "forbid to fail/bail out my contributors" - just don't. It's that simple. If the government needs to intervene in business with funding it should own (nationalise) the business - not give/loan it money.

    • Because counterfeit football merchandise is such a "clear and present danger" that it rates diverting resources from, you know, actual crime like bank robbery and human trafficking.

      "Actual crime" is what the law defines as crime.

      Crimes with an interstate or foreign dimension or a federal constitutional dimension become a federal responsibility.

      Clear and present danger was a doctrine adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States to determine under what circumstances limits can be placed on First Amendment freedoms of speech, press or assembly.

      Clear and present danger [wikipedia.org]

      Law enforcement multi-tasks.

      U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for enforcing the nation's immigration and customs laws. ICE has more than 20,000 employees working in 400 offices in the U.S. and around the world.

      Careers [ice.gov]

      No law endorsement agency is an island.

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

      With more than 42,000 frontline CBP officers and Border Patrol agents protecting nearly 7,000 miles of land border and 327 ports of entry --- including official crossings by land, air, and sea --- CBP is uniquely situated to deter and disrupt human trafficking.

      U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

      USCIS helps protect victims of human trafficking and other crimes by providing immigration relief. Two types of immigration relief for victims of human trafficking and other crimes are available through USCIS: T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa) and U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa).

      Human Trafficking: Our Partners [ice.gov]

      For a look at the reality of bank robbery in the U.S:

      Wanted Bank Robbers [fbi.gov]

      Google Map and 287 photographs of robberies in progress,

  • Whew! (Score:5, Funny)

    by willoughby (1367773) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:35AM (#46117915)

    I feel safer already!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is what "national security" means: Maintaining the political and economic status quo [theguardian.com], even against the will of the people. [wikipedia.org]

      Since they dropped law enforcement from their mission statement and donned "national security" the FBI won't have to worry about their actions exposed as they directly support de-facto communist corporate interests, not the people or the capitalism we're told is at play.

      Think about it: How capitalistic is it to confiscate a bunch of goods to prevent competition? The sportswear pric

  • apropos nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) on Friday January 31, 2014 @04:38AM (#46118127) Homepage
    Which country are the non-conterfeit items made in?
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Which *factory* are the non-counterfeit items made in.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:06AM (#46118181)

    The jerseys (the good sewn ones) are simply way too expensive. They're upwards of $250-300 and taht's more than I'm spending on a player who might be with the team for 3-4 years. In fact, all the gear and items are obscenely inflated in price. However, the counterfeit stuff is hit or miss. I've got a Woodley jersey that looks like cartoon lettering was used for the player's name. Some items I'm sure are straight off the assembly line. Maybe they ran it another day and sold the extras on teh black market.

    The NFL can't be surprised this is happening. When Americans started to realized that goods were being produced at cutrate prices overseas and sold to us as a huge markup, lots of us gave the finger to tradition stores and elected to cut out the middle man as well. I'm probably being hypocritical based on my stand on illegal downloads, but I have no sympathy for Goodell's NFL.

    • by stiggle (649614)

      Often the manufacturers of the legitimate sportswear get a contract to make 10,000 shirts. So to cover the expected rejects, they make 12,000 shirts with the knowledge they'll have 10,000 good shirts to supply to the customer. Now what to do with the 2000 shirts they made extra and/or were rejected due to manufacturing issues (label upsidedown, etc) - they sell them on. They don't get the little hologram label saying its legit, but its made in the same factory by the same people, its just outside of the c

    • My brother's girlfriend got adventurous one christmas and purchased NFL jerseys from some shady chinese website. Reportedly, she got them for about $20 each, plus shipping. We gushed over them--and scrutinzed them carefully--as we couldn't believe the quality at the price she paid. After that experience, I'm 100% convinced they're not "counterfeit" in the manufacturing sense, but instead they're pulled straight from the line on which the same "$200" jerseys are made, and sold on the side.

      • After that experience, I'm 100% convinced they're not "counterfeit" in the manufacturing sense, but instead they're pulled straight from the line on which the same "$200" jerseys are made, and sold on the side.

        Happens all the time actually. I've been to China and spoken with business owners there. It is ridiculously common for contract manufacturers to do exactly what you are describing. They'll make extra and simply divert some through a distribution channel other than what the customer intended.

      • Actually a lot of them don't do this anymore (pull them off the same line). That was a very common practice a few years ago where the company that produced the official product did so with the intention of running a "third shift" to make goods that would go unreported and sell them under the table. Now the guys making fakes (and nothing but fakes) are so good at what they do that something simple like an NFL logo is just too easy to copy perfectly. I buy them all the time and rarely ever see any kind of big
    • Due to a law passed after Hurricane Katrina [nytimes.com], when trademark holders got upset that poor and displaced people were wearing counterfeit clothing, the feds have to destroy all the seized clothing rather than donate it to charity.

      China tends to donate seized counterfeit goods to charity. The US actually sued China at the WTO over this practice, and eventually lost [twnside.org.sg].

    • You're still purchasing a product from the manufacturer. Not the same as an illegal download.
      Potential copyright infringement, but that's more on the manufacturer. I want a #12 Jersey, and I might pay 50 bucks for it, regardless of where it comes from, but like you, I'm not shelling out 250+ for a shirt I wear once a week and do no work in.
    • The jerseys (the good sewn ones) are simply way too expensive. They're upwards of $250-300 and taht's more than I'm spending on a player who might be with the team for 3-4 years.

      Wait, an official NFL jersey costs $250-$300?? Fucking really? No wonder they need the government to enforce their monopoly!

      • Wait, an official NFL jersey costs $250-$300?? Fucking really? No wonder they need the government to enforce their monopoly!

        Sure because people are willing to pay that. It's not like anyone has a gun to their head when buying one. It's the very definition of a discretionary purchase.

        I think the people spend that much money on a jersey have a room temperature IQ but it's their money...

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      So, instead of just doing without, you pay someone else for a crappy knockoff and still look like you are supporting the people you claim to be mad at. Good job.
      • You don't get sports, do you. It's about a fun camaraderie among fellow fans. I'm not wearing a jersey to support the NFL or the owner or the commissioner. I'm wearing it for my team and that player. If you don't get it, some people think you're just as stupid for shelling out $300 more for a high-end graphics card.

  • by putaro (235078) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:45AM (#46118275) Journal

    Customer and Border Patrol should stick to enforcing customs laws AT THE BORDER. Once it's entered the country they should have no authority. We've also seen them trying to enforce copyright, as in the recent Google Glass case [washingtonpost.com]. They're already out of control at the borders with their warrantless searches, their authority should be rolled back, not expanded.

    • by c4tp (526292)

      Customer and Border Patrol

      Border Patrol is just a small part of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. CBP mainly inspects people and goods that come into the U.S. through any port, whether it's by land, sea or air. So they have officers all over, and intercepting counterfeit imports is part of their mission. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the other agency within DHS that has boots on the ground to find violators after they get past customs. They should be part of a task force to find illegal imports as well.

  • Your tax dollars subsidize the stadiums, the wealthy owners, the games, and their idiotic and useless "trademarks" too.

    Didn't we elect someone to stop crony capitalism? Oh, right: he's now the crony capitalist in chief.

    • Your tax dollars subsidize the stadiums, the wealthy owners, the games, and their idiotic and useless "trademarks" too.

      Didn't we elect someone to stop crony capitalism? Oh, right: he's now the crony capitalist in chief.

      I have come to the conclusion that when a President takes office he either gets with the program or the program gets with him. Not entirely, of course. He can have an agenda, but he can't color too far outside the lines.

  • So many high end brands move their production to China sending blueprints of their lucrative products to sweatshops and then wonder why the market suddenly gets flooded with counterfeit/perfect copies. They only really have themselves to blame for selling out their own countrys workers in the name of more profit. +1 for making them foot the customs bill though, hopefully at a vastly inflated rate plus expenses.
  • Way to go guys! Now go after Wall Street...
  • Shut down businesses comprising millions of dollars worth of economic activity.
  • From the article: "Counterfeit goods cost the global economy an estimated $250 billion each year. More than 1.2 million jobs in New Jersey, 900,000 jobs in Colorado and 1.2 million in the state of Washington depend on IP intensive industries meaning counterfeits have a direct impact on the economy in the home states of both teams and the host of the Super Bowl."
    How, exactly, do people purchasing a good cost the world economy anything? Someone makes a product and another person buys it, viola, you have an ec

    • How, exactly, do people purchasing a good cost the world economy anything?

      In a variety of ways depending on the nature of the counterfeit good. Some problems with counterfeits are more serious than others.

      1) Many counterfeit goods are produced by criminal (think Mafia, etc) organizations. Purchasing these goods subsidizes these organizations.
      2) Counterfeit goods weaken incentives to produce innovative and/or higher quality goods
      3) Many counterfeit goods are not produced to appropriate safety standards and constitute a health/safety hazard.
      4) Counterfeits undermine the relations

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Riiight.

        1) Many counterfeit goods are produced by the same factory that produced the originals (extended runs, etc)
        2) Counterfeit goods weaken incentives to produce innovative and/or higher quality goods (somewhat true)
        3) Many counterfeit goods are not produced to appropriate safety standards and constitute a health/safety hazard. (you mean the counterfit shirts are "unsafe"?)
        4) Counterfeits undermine the relationship between customer and buyer as the buyer can no longer be sure of the product they are rece

  • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:56PM (#46120955)
    I only buy counterfeit jerseys now and if you find the right source they're rarely much different from the real thing. The only "level" of jersey that shows a great deal of difference is the genuine "on-field" jersey that is supposed to be exactly like the one the players wear. In the case of those yes, the real ones are made of better, thicker material with stronger seams. I can get one for a fraction of the real price though that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing at 10 feet and that's all I care about. I own two real jerseys. Both cost upwards of $250 and both players are long gone from the team I follow. Won't make that mistake again. Buying a real jersey is something you do towards the end of a HoF players career, not on draft day before you know anything about them or the career they're going to have. It's so easy to waste your money on this stuff if you go authentic. Every year I contact "My man in China" via email and get his latest URL. he moves all the time and gets busted every now and then. He's back up in days at a new site and his jerseys are around $30 for a beautiful copy with all sewn letters/numbers. He has new players available within weeks (sometimes even days) of their coming to a team. I buy about 4-5 jerseys a year this way and when a player gets traded, or cut I don't get burned like I did before. What always amazes me is how good the fakes are. A really bad screen-printed pretend jersey at Academy is over $60 and I can get a great looking fake on-field jersey for $30. Who in the hell is guying the screen-printed crap? Every time they shut him down he pops back up. That's the new economic reality IP holders. Time to get your prices back to reality. If Keki in China can afford to crank out hundreds of thousands of jerseys like this and ship them in small packages all over the US then it's hard to miss that the NFL is fucking over it's fans with overpriced crap.
    • by mythosaz (572040)

      I made a plunge on a "real" jersey last year. A large part of my decision was finding a player I liked who had a high likelihood of being with the team in 5 years.

      For $300 jerseys, they should offer a trade/injury guarantee. :(

  • Corporations want to be free to exploit cheap labor in developing countries. Well, developing countries want to exploit the demand and deep pockets of the first world. Counterfeits are a natural and essential part of a true competitive market. But corporations would rather operate under an imperialist market, where they use the force of big government to control the flow of goods and capital.

  • Keeping all the most important "people" in America (at least, people on paper) safe.

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