- Pre-Super Bowl vigilance led to the seizure of 171,926 counterfeit sports- and entertainment-related items worth an roughly $15.6 million, Sourcing Journal reported Wednesday.
- The crackdown was a joint effort by Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to halt the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise sold during the sporting event.
- The effort, dubbed Operation Team Player, resulted in a 16% increase in arrests since the 2017 Super Bowl with 65 arrests and 24 convictions occurring this year.
Counterfeit goods are a big problem across supply chains, and Operation Team Player shows efforts to stop it must be concerted and year-round.
The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition projected $1.77 trillion worth of counterfeit goods were traded globally in 2015. Traditionally, such counterfeits were notably prominent in flea markets and street vendors, but as shopping shifts to online platforms, e-commerce marketplaces are on the spotlight to buck the trend.
Luxury brands, for example, hesitate to sell on Amazon for fear of knock-offs being sold or found as easily as legitimate products.
Part of the issue of fakery is the confusing effect it has on the supply chain. When the market is flooded by faux versions of Air Jordans or pretend Balenciaga gowns, the carefully balanced ratio of luxury products available is thrown out of sync. When customers are satisfied by inferior versions of the real thing, the market for luxury goods erodes, diminishing their value. If low cost becomes good enough, high cost, high value items suffer.
It's not just apparel that suffers this problem, either: jewelry, electronics, entertainment providers and even drugmakers have been fighting piracy for years.
The hope is that as technology and supply chain visibility improves, spotting fakes will become easier. Amazon, for example, is charging new sellers to check whether their product is legitimate with a service that verifies SKU barcodes. The pharmaceutical industry similarly hopes blockchain-based tracking can assure drugs are safe for use.
Until industry can address the counterfeit issue seamlessly, though, stopping the inflow of such products often lies with regulators like CBP and Homeland Security.