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NBA Issues Warning To Lakers Fans: Beware Of Counterfeit Merchandise
Team's success and popularity surrounding NBA Finals has league and law enforcement officials on the lookout for counterfeiters
As the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals this week, demand is higher than it has been all season for Lakers apparel and other memorabilia - making unsuspecting basketball fans a prime target for counterfeiters selling illegal and poorly produced knock-off merchandise.
The counterfeiters' potential victims include legitimate retailers in the Los Angeles area, as well as Lakers fans who believe they are purchasing authentic merchandise, only to learn later that they have obtained counterfeit products of inferior quality.
The illegal sale of counterfeit sports merchandise is a widespread and ongoing problem. Since 1993, the NBA - through its membership in the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos (CAPS) - has been involved in the seizure of more than nine million pieces of counterfeit merchandise featuring the logos of various professional sports leagues and teams, colleges and universities - valued at more than $329 million. Such counterfeiting becomes more prevalent during a post-season series like the NBA Finals, as the demand for team gear rises among fans.
During The Finals, the NBA will be working closely with local law enforcement authorities, responsible for enforcing laws prohibiting the sale of counterfeit league, team, and event merchandise.
"As the Lakers continue to win, their merchandise becomes more popular among basketball fans and counterfeiters alike," said Ayala Deutsch, senior vice president & chief intellectual property counsel for the NBA.
"The 2009 NBA Finals is an event that Lakers fans will want to remember for many years to come, but a counterfeit T-shirt is not really a keepsake if it contains a typo or shrinks three sizes when you put it in the laundry," said Deutsch.
To avoid falling into the trap of purchasing counterfeit items, Deutsch urges basketball fans to:
Ã¡ Look for the hologram sticker or hangtag and a sewn-in label identifying the merchandise as "genuine" or "official," as authorized by the NBA.
Ã¡ Shop at the Lakers official team store and other NBA-authorized retail locations - such as NBAStore.com - rather than buying items from street vendors and flea markets.
Ã¡ Beware of ripped tags, typographical errors, poor quality screen-printing, or irregular markings on apparel.
"But if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is," added Deutsch.
In addition to misleading consumers who believe they are buying legitimate memorabilia, the sale of counterfeit merchandise causes significant harm to lawful vendors in the area through lost business.
Â "The NBA insists upon the highest quality products, to protect both our authorized vendors and our fans," said Deutsch. "Counterfeiting is a lose-lose situation, harming those retailers who play by the rules and cheating fans out of the lasting NBA mementos they deserve."