BOSTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Boston and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) announced the successful results from the Boston segment of this year’s “Operation: Ground Rules” an aggressive counterfeit-combatting enforcement multi-partner operation held during and immediately following Major League Baseball’s 2018 World Series.
The multi-partner enforcement operation was coordinated with the support of and participation of HSI special agents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, City of Boston Code Enforcement personnel and MLB Trademark Enforcement representatives.
HSI special agents seized more than 3,000 items of counterfeit MLB apparel and merchandise being offered for sale by vendors in and around Fenway Park, throughout the Boston area, and along the post-series victory parade route in Boston. Merchandise included baseball hats, knit caps, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pennants. Had the goods been genuine, they would have retailed domestically for more than $87,000 dollars.
The Boston-area segment of “Operation: Ground Rules,” which also included enforcement actions near the site of National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers, targeted several sites in the Boston area, including at Fenway Park during the World Series games and also along the parade route during the traditional “duck boat” parade of the 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox across downtown Boston on Oct. 31.
“HSI views all violations of trademark business practices as a serious financial criminal violation. But exploiting the famously-loyal baseball fans of “Red Sox Nation” at a time when their team pride is rightfully at a peak is an even more egregious offense.” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, HSI Boston special agent in charge.
The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition estimates that product counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses more than $200 billion a year in lost revenue.
The IPR Center – formally codified in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 – stands at the forefront of the U.S. government’s response to global IP theft and enforcement of its international trade laws. The agency brings together 24 partner agencies, consisting of 19 key federal agencies, INTERPOL, Europol and the governments of Canada, Mexico and Britain in a task-force setting. The task force structure enables the IPR Center to effectively leverage the resources, skills, and authorities of each partner and provides a comprehensive response to IP theft. Enforcement initiatives developed by the IPR Center include major participation from HSI, CBP, FBI, military law-enforcement agencies and international authorities. In fiscal year 2017, HSI arrested 457 individuals, obtained 288 indictments and received 242 convictions related to support of IP enforcement operations. Additionally, combined efforts between ICE and CBP led to 34,143 IPR seizures with a value of $1.38 billion.
To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit IPRCenter.gov.
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