Friday, February 5, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Police evidence custodian Ivy Lee holds a counterfeit Pro
Bowl shirt above the licensed version. Police and NFL officials
will be on the lookout for counterfeits this weekend.

Beware counterfeit
Pro Bowl T-shirts

By Jaymes K. Song


Undercover police officers arrested two Los Angeles men last night in Waikiki for allegedly selling counterfeit NFL Pro Bowl merchandise.

The men were arrested at 8:45 p.m. for selling unlicensed NFL T-shirts for $10 on the sidewalks of Kalakaua Avenue, police said. The authentic T-shirts are selling for about $20.

The first suspect, 49, was arrested after a plainclothes Honolulu police officer purchased a T-shirt from the man, police said. He was booked for felony trademark counterfeiting.

The second suspect, 42, was arrested when officers and an NFL representative witnessed him selling the phony shirts. He was also booked for trademark counterfeiting.

Police seized a dozen shirts in the arrests.

An undercover sting operation was initiated when the NFL filed a complaint with the Honolulu Police Department.

NFL officials estimate possibly more than $200 million is lost each year because of counterfeiting.

"It's a big problem," said Don Brown of NFL Properties Inc. "The bigger the target, the bigger the problem. And we're a big target."

The NFL estimates sales of $3 billion per year in licensed merchandise.

Detectives said a group of people selling unlicensed T-shirts will be working in Waikiki all weekend and at the Pro Bowl game on Sunday. Although it is not illegal to purchase counterfeit merchandise, it is discouraged.

Look for an officially licensed NFL neck label on the clothing, police said. Official merchandise also has an NFL tag with a hologram.

One distinguishable difference in the shirts being sold in Hawaii is that the fake NFL T-shirts have the Pro Bowl roster on the back. The official shirts do not.

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