US busts Philly vendors for fake NHL, NBA, NFL gear: Update

Updated: Federal immigration agents were busy in Philly over the weekend, seizing mail-order pro hockey team-themed gear to protect team owners and their lucrative franchising deals from cheap unlicensed knockoffs offered by vendors, merchants and unlicensed China-based manufacturers. 

In connection with the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic held here, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit says it grabbed "1,649 counterfeit items with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of nearly $350,000" from Philadelphia vendors since Dec. 28.

Says ICE: "HSI special agents - working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Philadelphia Police Department Major Crimes Unit, and the National Hockey League (NHL) and its private investigators - seized approximately 150 international mail parcels and investigated nine vendors since Dec. 28, 2011.

"ICE HSI also seized counterfeit items bearing the trademarks of Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Basketball Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association."

ICE special agent in charge John P. Kelleghan said the government was protecting "the reputation of trademark holders like the NHL" against cheaper counterfeits "in China." So far, "nobody has been charged. We are still getting additional seizures," he told me. His group expects to report to the US Attorney's Office and the Philadelphia Police Department for possible prosecution. "The money made from this is all dirty money."