This goes straight to the bottom of my list of worries (and does not pass ‘GO’)

Yesterday this notice came in from the International Trademark Association:

Trademark community tackles problem and offers defense for consumers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           CONTACT: MATTHEW SCHMIDT

NEW YORK, NY – January 28, 2009 – With Super Bowl XLIII only days away, The International Trademark Association (INTA) today issued a warning to the legions of fans hoping to buy official Super Bowl gear and offered tips on how to spot fake merchandise.
This year, Super Bowl Sunday will be one of the biggest days of the year for sports fans around the world, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals face off in what is destined to be an incredible football game.
At last year’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, counterfeit NFL gear was widespread, and hundreds of consumers left the game with cheap, fake football jerseys and merchandise. According to federal, state and local authorities, there were more than 6,000 pieces of counterfeit goods totaling more than $300,000 sold out of trailers and vans at Super Bowl XLII.
Counterfeiters are planning on taking advantage of loyal NFL enthusiasts again this year, and INTA is committed to raising awareness on these fake goods and apparel. Illegal counterfeit goods promote child labor and fund organized crime. Counterfeit and knock-off goods also use sub-par materials that leave consumers with second-rate merchandise.
“Super Bowl Sunday is more than just a sporting event; it is an American pastime shared by families and friends, and we want all fans to be aware of the fake jerseys and other phony NFL merchandise being peddled by counterfeiters. Nothing can replace the memories of a fantastic Super Bowl, just like nothing can replace the quality and value of authentic NFL gear,” said INTA Executive Director, Alan C. Drewsen.
To help fans, INTA has compiled tips on what to look for when purchasing Super Bowl apparel and merchandise. Consumers should:
1. Shop in established stores and be wary of street and out-of-trunk vendors.
2. Research goods beforehand to know exactly what you want.
3. Do not buy items of poor quality that have irregular stitching or uneven coloring.
4. Avoid items without an authentic logo or with an awkward looking label.
5. Do not buy items with prices that are uncharacteristically low.

To learn more about trademarks and how they protect businesses and consumers, please visit

Folks, I'm a big believer in copyright and the protection of intellectual property, but I gotta tell ya, I'm not going to buy ANY NFL merchandise, real or fake. So this is a bit of a theoretical question for me.

And I find myself wondering how many people out in the NFL-merchandise-buying public are deeply worried about "authenticity" in the sense of worrying about the NFL getting its cut — at the same time they're worried about keeping their jobs… Does Joe Sixpack football fan say, "Oh, no! That jersey that I already know was not actually worn by that guy who makes millions playing football, but merely a copy of it, might not be 'authentic'!?!? In fact, I'm running a Super-Risk! I gotta do something!"

Not that they shouldn't be worried about it — respect for rule of law and all that — but how worried will they be? And that's what I thought of when I got this release: I thought, if I'm in charge of protecting the NFL's cut, do I think I'm going to accomplish that more by asking the general public to watch out for my interest, or am I better off working with the folks who run the teams and the stadiums and the police in those cities?

I guess they're doing both. I don't know. I know I just spent more time on it than it was actually worth in light of what I need to do today. Something just struck me as a little off about this, but it was harder to explain than I thought it would be…

5 thoughts on “This goes straight to the bottom of my list of worries (and does not pass ‘GO’)

  1. bud

    So true. Folks may even seek out the counterfeiters hoping to save a buck. So what if it’s a bit lower quality. It will look the same for a while then you get rid of it and get some new piece of crap. If we can survey 8 years with a counterfeit president I don’t suppose a fake Steelers Jersey is going to kill anyone.

  2. bud

    5. Do not buy items with prices that are uncharacteristically low.
    Yup that’s good advice. Go ahead and spend WAAAY too much money on authentic NFL crap.

  3. Brad Warthen

    Exactly. If it’s my JOB to protect those copyrights, I don’t think offering this advice to the public is the best way to accomplish it…
    Some people are really football-crazy, and LOVE their teams, but I don’t know how many are worried about whether those teams get every dime they can (legally) squeeze from folks buying junk they don’t need.

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