Super Bowl Sweep
Author:  Paul Hortenstine
Date:  02/02/2012

Usually, the debate on intellectual property laws focuses on pirated movies and television shows.  This leaves out many of the 19 million Americans who rely on the intellectual property industries for their jobs.  Intellectual property laws encourage innovation and creativity.  Counterfeiting trademarked goods and pirating copyrighted content is stealing that hurts the economy.  For example, a large law enforcement operation this week illustrates the importance of trademark protection to the apparel industry and sports leagues, particularly the NFL and Super Bowl merchandise.

In response to counterfeiting of sports leagues’ clothing and merchandise, law enforcement agencies engaged in Operation Fake Sweep.  As the Associated Press reported:

“Federal officials say authorities have seized nearly $5 million worth of phony Super Bowl sportswear and merchandise in a nationwide sweep.  Officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the results of the four-month investigation Thursday in Indianapolis.  Agents targeted stores, flea markets and street vendors that allegedly sold counterfeit game-related sportswear.  Fake jerseys, ball caps, T-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs were among the 42,000 items confiscated in Operation Fake Sweep.  Authorities put the total take at more than $4.8 million, up from $3.7 million last year.”

This operation also targeted the copyright infringement of live sports: 

“Additionally, Yonjo Quiroa, 28, of Comstock Park, Mich., was arrested Wednesday by special agents with HSI [Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations].  He is charged with one count of criminal infringement of a copyright related to his operation of websites that illegally streamed live sporting event telecasts and pay-per-view events over the Internet.  Quiroa operated nine of the 16 streaming websites that were seized, and he operated them from his home in Michigan until yesterday's arrest.”