Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Can a Lawsuit Stop Super Bowl Counterfeit Tickets?

Are those Super Bowl tickets legit? In an effort to stomp out that unnerving question in the lead up to the big game, the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, and the NFL are teaming up -- in a courtroom, at least.

A lawsuit filed in Minnesota state court seeks a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief to combat counterfeiters selling fake tickets, jerseys, helmets, and other NFL and team gear.

The Goods Are Odd

The Super Bowl is, of course, a media and merchandising spectacle. Over 100 million TV viewers make the game an advertiser's Mecca, launching Super Bowl commercial watching parties and attracting vendors of all shapes and sizes. And the broadcasts, attire, gear, and merchandise involved all feature official NFL and team trademarks and other intellectual property. Selling licenses to use those rights is the business of professional sports.

Most of vendors are legit. But merchants selling fake tickets and unlicensed gear suit up on game day too. The Super Bowl happens once a year, every year, in a different place each year, and almost everyone there is coming from somewhere else. That's a breeding ground for counterfeiters and hawkers in unlicensed goods. And that's essentially what the lawsuit seeks to prevent.

But the Odds Are Good

While the outcome of a lawsuit is rarely certain, the NFL has won this game before. A similar lawsuit seeking similar relief was filed back in 1992, when the Super Bowl was in Minnesota. So why the rematch?

A temporary restraining order would give local law enforcement and police the power to seize fake merchandise. For the NFL, Patriots, and Eagles, being able to stop the sale of fake goods at the time is better than having to round everyone up and sue them individually.

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