MINNEAPOLIS -- Major League Baseball's 2014 All-Star game will bring a lot of fans and attention to the Twin Cities. It will also bring it's share of entrepreneurs looking to pass off counterfeit all-star themed merchandise.
"You're going to have folks who are going to gravitate to Minnesota, perhaps to try to rip people off in this window," Ethan Orlinky of MLB Properties told KARE.
Orlinsky, who is based in New York, is in town for the game and many of the activities surrounding it, including All-Star Fanfest at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
"It's not just natives trying to sell these products. We'll probably have people coming from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles who may have previous records of peddling counterfeit items."
Orlinsky is already working with local authorities, and gearing up for scenarios ranging from solo artists selling from a satchel to a sophisticated silk screening operation churning out large quantities of bogus apparel.
He said that huge one-of-a-kind events such as an all-star game typically lead to impulse buying, so consumers need to be sure they're buying the real thing.
"We want to make sure it's clear to consumers who the legitimate companies are, but to the extent there's any issue with the product, that they have somebody to go to," Orlinsky remarked.
He said authentic merchandise from companies licensed by MLB Properties will carry an intricate hologram on the sales tag. The red, white and blue image in the hologram will reveal stars and stripes and an MLB logo as you move it.
The product tag also will carry an alphanumeric ID unique to that item. And the MLB sticker will have raised red stitching on the baseball portion of the league's icon.
"Counterfeiters try to copy the hologram, but they'll have to go to greater expense to put a different number on every hologram," Orlinsky explained.
"The more we require of our licensees the more expense and effort counterfeiters have to go to, and eventually they lose their profit margin because it costs just a much as the real thing to make."
Genuine MLB licensed ball caps, shirts and jerseys also have the names and logos of the licensees as well registered trademark and copyright symbols. Knock-offs, on the other hand, will often just list the country of origin or the size on the label.
Another tell-tale sign of fake MLB apparel will be a cut tag, the international symbol that a product is a factory second or is defective in some manner. MLB Properties does not allow its licensees to sell seconds, because those items typically have been deemed to be deficient in some way.
When it comes to shirts and caps factory seconds often will shrink or lose their color quickly. In extreme cases tags are cut because the fabric doesn't meet flame retardant standards.
Orlinsky said the battle against counterfeit duds isn't just about protecting the profits of the MLB licensees and retailers. He's says it's about ensuring quality standards and preserving jobs. Counterfeiters generally don't collect taxes and submit that revenue to the government, leaving the rest of the taxpayers to pick up the slack.
"This is one of those crimes where you can find a lot of victims."