Club Counterfeiting Battle Paying Off
Counterfeiting golf products is a multimillion dollar racket that has been nagging legitimate equipment companies for years. But ever-increasing vigilance and tireless enforcement by officials are making inroads in the criminal activities.
The U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group announced recently that it seized more than 95,000 counterfeit golf products in 2011, nearly four times the amount seized in the previous year.
The significant increase demonstrates the group’s improved ability to cooperate with law enforcement agencies around the world to identify and eliminate counterfeit operations. In addition to raids and seizures, 2011 saw the group launch an educational website that provides visitors with information on how to avoid purchasing counterfeit clubs.
The golf group also took considerable legal actions against counterfeiters in China and the U.S., including successfully securing a court order to shut down a number of websites allegedly selling counterfeit clubs.
“The golf group remains committed to shutting down as many counterfeit operations as it possibly can,” Don Reino, vice president of legal operations for Cleveland Golf, said in a release.
“The golf group’s cooperative efforts, in combination with the continued support of Chinese law enforcement agencies, allowed us to send an even stronger message to counterfeiters around the world last year.”
The golf group capped off 2011 with two raids, one in Shanghai and one in Huizhou City, which led to the confiscation of more than 7,000 fake clubs and more than 8,000 combined counterfeit golf products.
During the raid Dec. 15 in Huizhou City, the golf group worked with local law enforcement to raid an operation resulting in more than 7,000 counterfeit golf products being seized at a total value of more than $100,000.
Four days later, on Dec. 19 in Shanghai, another site was raided and more than 1,000 fake products discovered.
“Our success this year goes beyond the numbers,” said Michael Rider, senior vice president and general counsel for Callaway. “We stopped the production of a large number of fake clubs, but we also successfully launched an educational campaign with our golf group website. Through that, we’ve given thousands of people tips on how to avoid counterfeit purchases. That is as great of an accomplishment as any of the raids we conducted.”
The group launched the website www.keepgolfreal.com in July 2011. In that time, it has received thousands of hits and visitors from around the world.
In November, the group was awarded a preliminary injunction by a South Florida district court, which shut down 62 websites believed to be selling counterfeit golf products. Visitors to the sites were redirected to Web pages outlining the group’s legal actions.
The group was also successful in winning a number of court battles in China. In August, two counterfeiters were convicted of selling thousands of golf products from 2006 to 2010. As a result, they were sentenced to prison, probation and monetary fines.
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