As the Blackhawks advance through the NHL Western Conference finals, the NHL warns that it will be cracking down on counterfeiters attempting to sell unauthorized and poorly produced knock-off merchandise.
Since 1993, more than nine million pieces of counterfeit merchandise featuring the logos of various pro sports leagues and teams, colleges and universities have been seized - valued at more than $329 million - through the enforcement efforts led by the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos (CAPS). Thousands of counterfeit products, including t-shirts, hats, and sweatshirts, were confiscated at this year's 2009 NHL Winter Classic in Chicago on Jan. 1.
"The better a team performs on the ice, the more appealing its name and logo become among fans and counterfeiters alike," said Tom Prochnow, NHL Enterprises group vice president, legal and business affairs. "Fans may think they're purchasing a T-shirt or jersey in support of their favorite team but, in reality, they're only supporting counterfeiters."
"We want our fans to understand that you get what you pay for when it comes to counterfeits," added Prochnow. "A counterfeit T-shirt is not a keepsake if it contains a typo or shrinks three sizes when you put it in the laundry."
To avoid being victimized by counterfeiters, Prochnow urges Blackhawks fans to:
• Look for the NHL hologram sticker or hangtag and a sewn-in label identifying the merchandise as "official" and authorized by the NHL.
• Purchase souvenirs from legitimate retailers such as shop.nhl.com or the Blackhawks official team stores, rather than buy questionable items from street vendors, flea markets, or other such sources.
• Beware of ripped tags, typographical errors, poor quality screen-printing, or irregular markings on apparel.
• Be suspicious of items when the price is too good to be true.