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Key tips for sports brands on tackling counterfeiting and grey goods

Published 19 October 2017 | Authored by: Tom Collins

The sports industry has been grappling with the challenges posed by counterfeit and unauthorised goods for many years, and the increasing global popularity of competitions such as the English Premier League (“EPL”) makes this market an obvious and lucrative target. During the 2016/2017 season more than 170,000 counterfeit items, worth approximately £2.4 million, were seized on behalf of the EPL.

This article explores some high-profile cases concerning counterfeits in the sports sector, the economic impact on brand owners, and some of the recent legal and commercial developments that have been introduced to try to tackle the problem. Specifically it looks at:

  • The extent of the problem of counterfeits in the sports industry;

  • The effectiveness of online enforcement measures;

  • The role of customs; 

  • The “grey goods” market – i.e. products manufactured legally, but sold without approval - the case of R v C & Others;

  • Commercial strategies for rights holders

  • Key tips for sports brands on tackling counterfeiting

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About the Author

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

Tom is an Associate in the IP team at Stevens & Bolton LLP and advises on a wide range of intellectual property matters, including brand protection disputes, copyright and designs, IP licensing and defamation and reputation management. Tom joined the firm as a trainee in September 2013 and completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law upon qualification. 

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