MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles joined forces ahead of this year’s Super Bowl, asking a Minnesota judge to grant local police the power to seize counterfeit merchandise and tickets.
NFL Properties LLC, New England Patriots LLC and Philadelphia Eagles LLC sued Does 1-100 in Hennepin County District Court last week, just as the Patriots and Eagles get set to face each other in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Sunday.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants consist primarily of large-scale professional counterfeiters who plan to sell merchandise and tickets bearing the National Football League’s trademarks and logos.
NFL Properties and the two teams – represented by lead attorney Leita Walker with Faegre Baker Daniels in Minneapolis – say the counterfeiters will take advantage of numerous official Super Bowl LII-related events by duping fans into buying counterfeit merchandise and tickets.
Each year, the Super Bowl attracts a television audience of more than 100 million viewers in the U.S. alone, and intense media attention is focused on the game and the participating teams in the weeks leading up to the game, the complaint states.
According to the lawsuit, NFL Properties has issued national licenses to nearly 180 companies for use of the NFL trademarks on a variety of products, such as apparel, souvenirs, games and novelty items, but counterfeiting remains a significant concern.
“A few days before the Super Bowl game, itinerant defendants will descend on the host city to distribute their counterfeit merchandise and counterfeit tickets for ultimate cash resale and disappear without a trace,” the complaint states. “These individuals and companies often utilize fictitious names, business addresses, and sham forms of business organizations.”
For the last 35 years, NFL Properties says it has tried to combat the problem by obtaining ex parte seizure orders that empower law enforcement to seize counterfeit merchandise and tickets. It received such an order from the Hennepin County District Court back in 1992 when Super XXVI was played in Minneapolis, according to the complaint.
NFL Properties claims that the public is injured by the counterfeiters because they are deceived into believing that they are purchasing genuine NFL products when in reality they are buying a substandard product.
“When the merchandise prematurely breaks, tears, shrinks or fades and when the tickets fail to grant entry into the Super Bowl game, consumers lose the value of their hard-earned money and question the goodwill of plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states.
The Patriots, Eagles and NFL Properties seek an ex parte temporary restraining order and a judgment enjoining any counterfeiters from producing or selling any merchandise bearing the protected NFL trademarks. They also want the court to give law enforcement authority to seizure any counterfeit merchandise or tickets.
NFL Properties did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.