NBA lawyer: Police will be on lookout for all-star counterfeiters

The NBA has partnered with the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos to address trademark protection and enforcement matters. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

Toronto police and the city’s bylaw enforcement unit are working with the NBA to crack down on counterfeiters and illegal vendors during all-star weekend.

NBA lawyer Anil George says knockoff goods were a problem during last year’s festivities in New York.

"There were counterfeiters who were preying on fans who did not have necessarily the right information to figure out, ‘Oh, OK, this guy is just out of the blue approaching me offering to sell something,"’ said George, a lawyer with NBA Properties Inc.

"We wanted fans to become more informed if you see someone who is putting together a pop-up area in which they’re selling something out of a bag, or if you’re going to a flea market, that those aren’t the type of places that you’re going to get something that’s going to last."

In addition to purchasing goods from authorized vendors, George said there are key signs to distinguish authentic merchandise from fakes.

In the case of a T-shirt, for example, there should be licensee information on the neck label.

"What we see for counterfeit products is there's often a label that's often split in half or ripped in half which means it's an irregular rejected blank that they're working with. So, that's a telltale sign," said George.

Authorized merchandise will also have NBA hologram stickers and hangtags with hologram strips along the bottom, he added.

"Then, you want to look for irregular markings," he said. "It's not uncommon to see misspelled team names, misspelled cities on the items that are sold by the counterfeiters."

The NBA and other sports leagues have partnered with the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos (CAPS) to address trademark protection and enforcement matters.

Since the group was formed in 1992, George says approximately 11 million counterfeit items have been seized by law enforcement.