Hong Kong Customs has seized more than HK$15 million (£1.4m) worth of counterfeit FIFA World Cup merchandise in the last two months under the authorities' appropriately named 'Operation Goalkeeper' initiative.
Customs officials announced last week that they had seized over a quarter of a million infringing articles under the operation, and arrested five people on suspicion on importing them. The items seized included clothing, shoes, bags and replica team kits. Most of them contained forged FIFA trademarks.
Hong Kong imposes strict sanctions for the importation of articles infringing trademarks, and can fine those found guilty up to HK$500,000 or imprison them for up to five years.
FIFA are working with customs agencies worldwide to clamp down on counterfeiting, and has a dedicated IP unit within its commercial legal department. The IP unit's remit covers negotiating away or opposing trademark applications inconsistent with FIFA's own, and assisting customs agencies in identifying counterfeit goods and merchandise.
FIFA needs this dedicated team: it has 13,500 trademark registrations or applications worldwide. During the tournament itself the IP unit will be assisting the Brand Protection team in identifying counterfeit goods brought to their attention by various customs agencies around the world.
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