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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