U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced significant gains in his fight against cap and apparel counterfeiters two months after he launched a three-pronged plan at the New Era facility in Buffalo to combat the scourge of counterfeit hat producers in China and elsewhere overseas, where millions of fake caps and other articles of knock-off clothing threaten the Buffalo company. Specifically, Schumer announced today, on Cyber Monday, that the U.S. Trade Representative’s office has raised New Era’s concern with high-level Chinese government officials. A Chinese website – www.Alibaba.com – that has provided a means for some counterfeiters to sell their products online has already removed 380 listings for counterfeit New Era products since Schumer launched his plan, and the site has pledged to continue to work with New Era to combat counterfeits. Additionally, Schumer announced that the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Center is working hand-in-glove to keep New Era apprised of counterfeit raids that will help the company and federal law enforcement identify and track fake cap producers, and recently completed their Cyber Monday raid of 132 domain names believed to be involved in the sale of counterfeit goods, including four websites devoted to counterfeit New Era products. While pleased to see early progress as a result of the plan, Schumer will continue to work with public and private entities to stop counterfeiters who prevent New Era from increasing its revenue and furthering its positive impact on Western New York.
“New Era and the federal government are now working together to fight back against foreign counterfeiters of this top-rate American product, all while hundreds of fraudulent online listings have been shut down. This united front, including official outreach to the Chinese government, is a home run against overseas cap counterfeiters who steal jobs and revenue from Western New York,” said Schumer. “With the holiday shopping season upon us, I’m pleased that this three-pronged plan has been kicked into gear, and that numerous levels of the federal government have stepped in to safeguard New Era’s brand and its 700 employees in Buffalo. I will continue to urge diligence and attention to this important issue for the Buffalo economy”
“The New Era brand is rooted in authenticity and counterfeit goods dilute our brand message. We will continue work to protect our brand and elevate our anti-counterfeiting initiatives. New Era appreciates Senator Schumer’s efforts in the on-going battle to ensure consumers are purchasing genuine New Era product.”
“These websites are a fraud on New York consumers and online shoppers around the world”, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton. “Buyers deserve to get the official product from an American company not a shoddy knock-off that lines the pockets of criminals operating overseas.”
Schumer’s plan, which is now being implemented, connects federal enforcement agencies with New Era officials to better identify counterfeiters overseas and beefs-up federal support to immediately halt their illegal operations, including the shutdown of factories and websites selling counterfeit caps and apparel. The Schumer-and-New Era partnership can help foster growth of this 92-year-old Buffalo company, with 700 employees in Western New York and 1,700 total worldwide. Schumer launched his plan at the New Era manufacturing facility in Buffalo in September to crackdown on counterfeit caps and apparel abroad so that New Era can protect its brand and boost job-growth in Buffalo. The New Era Cap Company, founded in 1920 in Buffalo, is headquartered on Delaware Avenue in Downtown Buffalo. New Era produces over 45 million caps per year, and operates a production facility in Derby, NY that employs over 450 Western New Yorkers. Producing their first baseball cap in 1934, New Era has been the exclusive supplier of on-field caps to Major League Baseball and its minor league affiliates since 1993 and is the official sideline cap for the National Football League.
In September, Schumer pushed for techniques, already proven effective in halting fraudulent hat manufacturers, to be used to help New Era. Specifically, this includes utilizing the office of the Unites States Trade Representative (USTR) to provide resources and support to New Era Cap in an effort to train New Era in the best ways to track and shut down fake cap producers; urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Justice Department to communicate directly with New Era about any information concerning the location and tactics of counterfeiters; and directing the IPR Center, a multiagency task force devoted to investigating and eradicating global intellectual property theft, to strengthen the program known as “Operation In Our Sites” to identify and shut down the thousands of counterfeit websites each year who facilitate the theft of millions of dollars in New Era’s annual revenue by increasing communication between the Center and impacted companies. Last year alone, New Era seized 850,000 fake caps worth over $35 million in 298 factories; found 120,000 fake pieces of apparel valued at more than $10 million in 48 factories; and removed over 90,000 counterfeit websites with a removal value of over $94 million. While New Era has gone to great lengths to keep foreign counterfeiters from stealing Western New York revenue, the company estimates it detects only 30 to 40 percent of the counterfeit market each year.
By creating a more open line of communication between New Era and top officials at various enforcement agencies, and by pressing those agencies to work hand-in-glove with New Era’s brand protection team, Schumer aims to increase the percentage of counterfeiters that are caught and shut down. By strengthening New Era and helping to protect its brand, Western New York will have a stronger partner and job creating engine, and New Era will also be able to continue the important work they do throughout the community, including programs like Shaping a New Era, that help support the Ride for Roswell, the Jackie Robinson Foundation and other important initiatives.
“Operation In Our Sites,” was launched in 2010 by the IPR Center; Department of Justice; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s; and the Federal Bureau of Investigations and seeks to shut down “commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works.” As of July 2012, 769 domain names seized have been seized, 229 have now been forfeited to the U.S. government. Since Schumer’s push, the IPR Center has focused on combatting New Era fraud, and in a Cyber Monday operation, the Center raided 132 websites, including four devoted to selling fraudulent New Era products.
ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center is at the forefront of the fight against criminal counterfeiting. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and American warfighters. ICE is the federal government’s lead agency investigating intellectual property theft. The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition estimates that counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses between $200 and $500 billion each year and more than 750,000 American jobs. ICE routinely receives tips and leads from consumers and industry alike in this effort.