Fake Goods Continue to Plague the Sports Industry
In a recent fascinating CTV W5 Episode investigators highlight the extent of counterfeit goods in apparel, memorabilia and event ticket markets.
W5 investigators went to China to see about buying fake sports jerseys. Manufacturers had no problem making knockoffs that look identical to the real thing. The Chinese Government tells them they are not allowed to use logos of Adidas, Nike or Reebok but with a little arm twisting the manufacturers would in fact add them on. And in order to avoid getting caught at border crossings they send jerseys in small quantities. The W5 investigators indicate it’s a billion dollar industry.
The W5 investigators also looked at the authentication industry in the memorabilia market. Authentication companies put a sticker on the product to ‘prove’ it’s authentic. The W5 investigators used an artist to copy famous autographs and investigators happily ‘authenticated’ the bogus memorabilia.
Finally, in the event ticket market, representatives at the Air Canada Centre said that 0.5% to 2% of tickets are fake. W5 investigators noted that each year thousands of people are turned away due to fake tickets purchased on-line.
Why is this bad for the Industry? It’s bad because fakes compete with the real thing. Fakes are often part of a criminal network. This has a large impact on real manufacturing jobs and law enforcement. In addition, when users are tricked into buying faked goods they are disappointed, rarely get their money back and it will impact future purchases.
The W5 investigators highlighted the problem of authentication and the lack of standards. How are users supposed to know the product they are buying is in fact authentic? The fakes are so good it’s really difficult to tell. Product companies use holograms but they can be copied as well.
A strong solution to these problems will offer a mix of hardware and software to provide anti-cloning and cryptographically secure verification.