NFL seized $13.6 million in counterfeit merchandise

The NFL announced that they’ve seized a record $13.6 million in counterfeit merchandise this season.

According to an ESPN report, the league worked with cooperation with several Federal agencies in a new effort to curb sales of counterfeit jerseys and other popular merchandise that is often replicated cheaply.

ESPN says they will air a special on their investigative show Outside the Lines this Sunday that will detail massive counterfeiting operations in China which the NFL says is taking a big chunk out of their bottom line.

The joint effort in 2012 between the NFL and U.S. officials was called “Operation Red Zone.”  

According to the report, 4,016 fake jerseys were seized and over 160,000 pieces of Super Bowl merchandise with help from customs and postal service officials.

 The NFL is in its first year of a partnership with Nike for player jerseys and merchandise.  Representatives from Nike and Fanatics– a leading NFL merchandiser, will discuss in depth the problem that’s emerged with dealing with online knock-off dealers.    

Jamie Davis, President of Fanatics, told Outside the Lines ”If you were to say who is our largest competitor, I would say counterfeit,”

According to a Nike Jersey FAQ page on CBS Sports, the new official jerseys are made in China – the same place where most cheap knockoffs come from.  Buyers are warned about indicators of counterfeit jerseys that have poorly stitched embroidering or fake logos.

This year’s official game jersey sells at a much higher price than in recent years.  Last year’s Reebok replicas sold at a retail price of about $85, compared to this year’s Nike jerseys that go for about $130.

Many overseas counterfeiters list their jerseys for less than half the price of the authentic products, and often use photos of the real jerseys along with the product description.  

Nike beat out Reebok in 2010 in a reported $1.1 billion bid to exclusively sell NFL jerseys.   With this year’s crackdown effort,  Nike and its partners are taking every step to maximize their investment.

The crackdown is a first step in a steep uphill battle with Chinese manufacturers, who rarely adhere to any licensing or copyright agreements of U.S. businesses.

Categories: Football