NBA, MLB and NHL tackle online counterfeiters


NBA, MLB and NHL tackle online counterfeiters

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Five US sporting organisations, including the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL), have filed a trademark infringement and counterfeiting claim against online marketplaces.

IMG College Licensing (which manages several US universities’ trademark portfolios) and the University of Nebraska were also named as plaintiffs on the lawsuit which was filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on July 2.

According to the claim, the online marketplaces are targeting US residents by “operating online stores that offer for sale unlicensed counterfeit products” featuring the sports organisations’ trademarks.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants create similar internet stores “by the thousands” and give the impression that they are selling licensed products.

Websites that sell counterfeit goods are estimated to receive tens of millions of visits per year and generate over $135 billion in annual online sales, said the sports organisations. The claim also said that online marketplaces which infringe trademarks contribute to tens of thousands of jobs being lost.

According to the complaint, the defendants’ domain names also incorporate one or more of the plaintiffs’ trademarks into the URL.

The websites also include content and design elements that make it difficult for consumers to identify them as counterfeit websites, said the claim.

Trademarks owned by the plaintiffs include the word marks ‘NBA’ (US registration number 1,833,902); ‘MLB’ (2,779,958); ‘NHL’ (1,962,135); ‘The Collegiate Licensing Company’ (1,891,318); and ‘Cornhuskers’ (2,081,721), which is the name of the University of Nebraska’s American football team.

The counterfeit products have allegedly caused the sporting organisations to suffer damage to their reputations and goodwill.

The complaint added that the organisations will suffer “future irreparable harm” unless the defendants are enjoined from using the trademarks. Damages have also been requested.  

counterfeit, trademark, trademark infringement, NBA, MLB, NGL, IMG College Licensing

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