With the March Madness kick-off tomorrow, we want to ensure your safety and awareness when shopping online for team merchandise. Check out our second edition of the Front & Center bulletin below on licensed team apparel!

Jeff Rojek, Director of MSU A-CAPP Center
and Steve Francis, Director of National IPR Center
March 17, 2021
Calculated Choices: Why Playoff Brackets and Shopping Carts Deserve More Attention This Season
Where is your money going?
We are approaching one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year: March Madness. While arenas won’t be jam-packed with fans this year, team spirit will not be diminished as Zoom watch parties will take their place. Before shopping for the newest jerseys or drink koozies representing your favorite teams, consider where you are buying them from. Although purchasing sports memorabilia and apparel on Facebook or from that link on Reddit may tempt you, your safest bet is to buy directly from the source, be that a store or site directly related to the team or a very reputable site. Counterfeiters are counting on you to choose their goods in the final rounds of your online shopping.

Why are licensed goods[1] more expensive, though? You probably want the best deal. Legitimate sellers of licensed goods, also known as licensees, are held to a higher standard than those who choose to use trademarks illegally. They must follow manufacturing guidelines, both in the use of safe materials and safe working conditions for those making your favorite goods, as well as pay royalties to the school and team whose brand is on the product.  Not only does the team lose profits from unlicensed sales, but when you purchase counterfeit goods, that decision can have a real impact on your health and others as well as the schools and teams who own the trademarks.
This season it is especially important to be safe and responsible while shopping for sports team merchandise. Buying authorized licensed goods will ensure products have passed all safety regulations, will bolster American manufacturing, and will truly support the schools and teams you love. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit schools and sporting teams hard. With the loss of most ticket sales, they rely much on the profit from team merchandise to stay afloat.
Universities and professional leagues have taken steps to remove online listings of counterfeits. Unfortunately, they have trouble fending off counterfeiters as the people behind the operation are usually untraceable online, and simply reemerge at another online location. It is up to us as consumers to do our part to stop them. Keep in mind some CLC tips in the graphic while shopping for licensed sports goods. (See right)

Do your best to cheer on your team responsibly and as you buy team merchandise, let more than your team chants be a real contribution to your favorite team! Those of us at the A-CAPP Center and the National IPR Center hope that you will safely enjoy the festivities this year. Construct your brackets, and your shopping carts, wisely.

[1] See Apparel Licensing Agreement: Everything You Need to Know, Upcounsel (November 5, 2020), https://www.upcounsel.com/apparel-licensing-agreement#:~:text=November%205%2C%202020%3A-,An%20apparel%20licensing%20agreement%20is%20a%20deal%20between%20the%20licensor,to%20manufacture%20and%20sell%20merchandise.

*Please note: This report was shortened for the Calculated Choices Awareness Bulletin. To read the full report on purchasing licensed apparel, visit the link below.
Meet the Authors
A-CAPP Center 2020-21 Matthew R. Maher Scholars