SAPD, NBA team up to find counterfeit merchandise
White Collar Crimes unit looks for trademark infringements, bootleg items
Ray Flores is selling plenty of Spurs merchandise at his Takedown 210 sports memorabilia shop as fans gear up for the NBA Finals.
Team jerseys, T-shirts and hats are some of the top sellers, but not all of what he sells is officially licensed by the NBA.
"Ninety percent, I would say is officially licensed (and) 10 percent are shirts that we've come up with," Flores said.
He sells some non-licensed shirts that are printed locally and many of them are also sold in tents on the side of the road. While most of what you find in those road side tents are legal, some come dangerously close to violating strict NBA rules.
Flores said he makes sure he only sells approved items, but he knows others who skirt the rules by selling counterfeit merchandise, which hurts his business.
"It hurts because they pay very, very low prices and I'm having to buy the quality licensed product which costs a little more," Floors said. "We try to pass all our savings on to our customers, but it's really hard when you have to compete against those types of shirts out there."
To combat the problem of counterfeit merchandise, the NBA is working with San Antonio police to find violators and confiscate their illegal merchandise.
"We primarily look for trademarks that are associated with the Spurs and the NBA," said Sgt. Miles Earwood, of SAPD's White Collar Crimes Unit. "The NBA attorneys will typically go out and try to ascertain who is selling items that are illegal or are infringements."
Earwood works undercover, going to stores and road-side tents in search of counterfeits and trademark violations. Those that sell them can make a lot of cash.
"Pennies on the dollar is what it costs them to make these things and they turn around and sell these for $10 to $15 a pop," Earwood said. "They're making a lot of money."
SAPD has confiscated some merchandise during the playoffs but not as much as they expected. Earwood said that has a lot to do with rigorous enforcement.
"It seems to me that we are being effective, and the people are trying to follow the guidelines and not counterfeit trademarks," Earwood said.
Those who get busted selling counterfeits can face anywhere from a Class C Misdemeanor all the way up to a Felony depending on how much illegal merchandise they have.
For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.
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