Federal authorities in recent weeks have seized more than $180,000 worth of knock-off NHL merchandise surrounding the Stanley Cup Final and Thursday's celebration for the champion Chicago Blackhawks, it was announced Friday.
"During every major sporting event in this country, criminal groups capitalize on the enthusiasm of fans by selling them counterfeit team merchandise," said James Gibbons, acting special agent in Charge for HSI Chicago. "Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime — it dupes the consumer, forces local stores out of business, and results in lost revenue for the trademark holders. Intellectual property theft is a very real crime with very real victims."
Officials said the seizure of 4,376 items -- fake hockey sweaters, hats, t-shirts, and other souvenirs -- had an estimated retail value of $181,215. The gear was found in both Chicago and Tampa.
According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, businesses worldwide lose an estimated $600 to 700 billion annually due to counterfeiting.