As the National Football League starts its regular season, this opinion piece from the Washington Examiner examines how licensed NFL memorabilia is a big target for the counterfeit goods industry. It also looks at how counterfeited products are a bigger issue than many think.
Starting with the NFL example, the authors note that prior to the 2018 Super Bowl, over $15 million of fake merchandise were seized in an joint operation between the NFL, ICE, FBI, CBP, and the Minneapolis Police Department. However, sports merchandise is only the tip of the iceberg.
In terms of the consequences of this industry, the writer notes "The sale of counterfeit merchandise industry is not a victimless crime... it hurts companies — many of which do hire some American workers — by ripping off their products, passing them off as legitimate, and stealing their business." More alarming is how fake goods are often made with child labor and how profits are sometimes used to finance terrorists and human traffickers.
These concerns are in addition to the way that fake goods can pose dangers to consumers. The article notes that, "As Northern Ireland’s official government website points out, the counterfeit industry includes children's toys with serious choking hazards, car parts with high rates of failure, cheap sports jerseys which lack flame resistance, and fake alcohol which contains antifreeze and nail polish, among other things."
The author calls for the government to do more to target the producers of these illicit goods. However, given the wide reaching nature of the issue, the private market needs to address the problem as well. Product creators need to dedicate themselves to ensuring that buyers have a way to differentiate between authentic products and fakes. Consumers, in turn, need to stay aware of the dangers posed by counterfeiters and should make an effort to keep themselves safe.