OpSec Blog

 Insights on Anti-Counterfeiting & Brand Protection Solutions

Bill Patterson

Bill is responsible for protecting the royalty payment stream and brand names of our licensing clients. Bill has had prior responsibilities at OpSec, which included selling protection for government passports, voter registration and personal identification cards, as well as vehicle registration labels. His career has spanned the industries of telecommunications, home improvement retail chains, direct marketing agencies, and video gaming. Bill learned to juggle at age ten and hasn’t missed a Van Halen tour in twenty-three years.
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Recent Posts

Commentary: The NBA Scores Big Against Counterfeiters

Posted by Bill Patterson on Feb 18, 2011 9:12:48 AM
Flying west at 34,000 feet, I’m headed to Los Angeles to attend the NBA All-Star Weekend.  Looking forward to the activities, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing.  However, I’m also reminded of why I’m even involved.   Like so many brand owners these days, the NBA is on constant vigil to stop the proliferation of unauthorized products across the globe.

Regularly, the NBA has a target on its back.  Basketball is a global sport.  It is played across Europe, Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia.  For those players with the skill to be at the pinnacle of the sport, the NBA is the dream.  Pulling the best of the best into one city for a flagship event attracts celebrities and avid fans alike looking to be a part of the action.

As always, the counterfeiters are on the scene to take advantage.  Now by choosing Los Angeles, a major Pacific port city, as the location of that flagship event, and suddenly your issues are compounded because the counterfeiters have a direct supply route.

But those counterfeiters are dealing with a well-oiled machine in the NBA.  The team that runs intellectual property and enforcement at the NBA are some of the best of the best in their game too.  And it’s fun to watch them in full force taking down the street vendors around the venue.  I just hope the rest of the public notices too.

Buying counterfeit merchandise is more than getting a cheap t-shirt.  It’s funding a criminal organization that you know nothing about.  A criminal organization that could be laundering drug money, lining the pocket of nefarious individuals, or raising funds for terrorist activities… not to mention that the products that they’re making may actually be harmful to your health.

As a country, we’ve spent a lot of money on public service announcements telling us not to litter, that our brain on drugs is like an egg in a frying pan, and within the last decade, if you see something… say something.  But what about the effects of counterfeiting?  Sure, when the event comes to town, the news stations will give three to four minutes about it.

But is it a business issue or a public safety issue?  I tend to side on the public safety issue.  Good public policy leads to good business.  And keeping the counterfeits off the street will actually employ more workers in legitimate companies.  There’s so much rhetoric about creating jobs… we don’t talk about the things we can do to protect the ones that we’ve lost due to ignorance.  Stopping unauthorized product can do just that.  If more people realized that, perhaps it could garner a little more attention in the press… and the general public.

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Topics: Counterfeiting

Commentary: Is Your Sports Memorabilia Authentic?

Posted by Bill Patterson on Jul 27, 2010 6:26:17 AM
With Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run imminent, there has been some mention in the media about authentication of game used merchandise.  This is a topic that is both growing in popularity and a stigma for things of the past:  how do you really know if it’s authentic?

Fortunately for MLB, there is a significant program involved.  Through the use of overt and covert markers on the game-used merchandise, MLB can determine if the item is genuinely something that has passed through their hands.  In fact, the overt holograms include a serial number that can be even verified through their own website.  The integrity of the program is ensured through the use of strict guidelines and professional authenticators for each and every item.

Then there is the question of items signed from many decades ago.  Verifying the signature of a Roberto Clemente baseball is a bit trickier when the authentication business didn’t truly exist at his passing in 1972.  Fortunately for collectors, there are companies that provide such a service.  Through the use of expert handwriting analysis, forensic techniques, and other records of the time, companies such as Total Sports Authenticators, will help determine the provenance and authenticity of a particular item.

But what about the everyday run-of-the-mill memorabilia provider?  You should be asking several questions:

  1. Is there a marking (i.e. hologram) that has been placed on the ball that serves as a security device with a unique serial number?  Don’t settle for a shiny piece of label that is there for marketing purposes to confuse the intent of authentication.

  2. What is the database for verifying that serial number?  Does it provide the date it was signed?  By the player that signed it?  Ideally, does it mention the type of item that was signed?

  3. If the item is of a vintage caliber, what are the credentials of the company providing its authenticity?

  4. Do you care?  Sometimes, people just want a good story to go along with their item if it’s going to sit on a shelf in their office.

Personally, I’m not a huge collector, but I do enjoy a good find every once in a while.  I don’t know if I’ll part with anything that I have.  Frankly, unless you’re a big Orioles or Ravens fan, you may not like most of my stuff anyway!  But I do like to know exactly where and how the signature was obtained.  About 75% of my collection was obtained personally.  I keep tickets showing dates and locations of signings or I try and get a photograph of me, the player, and the item being signed as visual proof.  If you’re a collector, that’s part of the fun of getting the item!

As for A-Rod, you better believe that whoever gets that ball will want to turn it over to MLB to verify the covert markings.  The expectation of that particular baseball’s value, once verified, is about $100,000 at auction.  Good luck, fans!

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Topics: Product Authentication, Intellectual Property