The one-month federal investigation began with the American League Championship Series.
As the St. Louis Cardinals battled their way through the playoffs and to their heart-stopping World Series victory, federal officials closed in on dozens of web sites selling counterfeit paraphernalia sporting copied logos of the Cardinals and other professional sports teams.
The seized stash of counterfeit goods included 4,058 Cardinals items, such as baseball caps and T-shirts, valued at $108,628.
"Homeland Security Investigations and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center have made a major dent in these criminals' plans to profit from fan enthusiasm surrounding a very exciting seven-game World Series—both in U.S. cities and in cyberspace," says John Morton, director of the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement, or ICE, the principal enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The one-month federal investigation, which commenced at the October beginning of Major League Baseball’s American League Championship Series, resulted in the seizure of 58 commercial web sites that allegedly sold and distributed counterfeit sports paraphernalia. Combined with merchandise seized offline, the counterfeit merchandise was valued at a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $134,862, ICE says.
Federal officials say the confiscated counterfeit items infringed on the copyrights or trademarks owned by the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League as well as Major League Baseball.
The seizure of the 58 web sites was the seventh phase of a broader investigation called “Operation In Our Sites,” an ongoing law enforcement initiative that began in June 2010 and targets counterfeiting and piracy over the Internet. The law enforcement units have since seized a total of 200 web site domains. In addition to Cardinals items, officials also seized what they said were counterfeit versions of items licensed by professional sports teams based in Dallas, Detroit and Milwaukee. Officials declined to identify the teams in those cities.
"Counterfeit products represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy and sometimes dangerous goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities, and by denying Americans good-paying jobs,” Morton says.
Following is a list of the 58 web sites seized this week by federal authorities: