Counterfeit sports products--including tennis racquets, shoes, strings, apparel and accessories--are estimated to be costing the tennis industry at least $30 million a year in lost sales. When a consumer buys a racquet or other product that turns out to be fake, it hurts everybody in this business: legitimate racquet manufacturers, legitimate tennis retailers, the consumer--even the sport itself.
Cheaply made knockoffs don't perform like the real products, and they can turn players off to playing tennis, which means we all stand to lose a tennis player and consumer. But also, playing with a counterfeit racquet or wearing fake tennis shoes may actually physically injure a player.
A number of federal agencies (including the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of Justice) are involved in taking down websites selling counterfeit goods, seizing domain names and seizing shipments of counterfeit products.
But all of these efforts need your help. If you're a retailer, become a Verified Dealer (it's free) so consumers know and trust the products you sell. And also, help to make sure consumers know that when a product is advertised at a price that seems too good to be true, it usually is. If you're a consumer concerned about a product you bought or are considering buying, report suspicious websites and activity here.
Counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated. While we can't emphasize enough the importance of purchasing from an authorized, Verified Dealer, if you get a product that looks suspect, here are some things you can check.
WHEN IN DOUBT, DON'T BUY! SAVE YOUR GAME!
In a down economy, consumers often are looking for lower-priced bargains, so they may not be as diligent in researching a product or sales outlet. In tennis racquets, it's the "hot," premium frames used by top pros that are generally the ones copied the most--they're often the more expensive frames on the market, so counterfeit websites can offer them for a price that looks very attractive.
In 2011, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) saw a 24 percent increase in the number of counterfeit products seized across all sports, including tennis, to 24,792 (from 19,959 in 2010). The domestic value of these counterfeit seizures was $179 million, with a retail value estimated at $1.1 billion. Keep in mind, these are just the fake products that have been seized--not the ones that make it into the U.S. and into the hands of unsuspecting consumers.
Low-value (under $1,000) seizures increased in 2011 but the average value of seized shipments was much higher at $7,193. While the overall value of seizures dropped in 2011, the number of seizures was the highest ever due to the large increase in small seizures as counterfeiters shipped more products direct to the consumer.
Footwear and apparel were the two largest sports/fitness related counterfeit categories and among the top five counterfeit products imported, both in number of seizures and domestic value. Footwear and apparel counterfeits represented 23 percent of the dollar value for products seized.
China continues to be the primary country of origin of counterfeit products and seizures, with an estimated 62 percent of fake products. Hong Kong is the next worst offending country of origin with 18 percent of seizures. All other countries combined make up the remaining 20 percent of counterfeits.
Consumers and Tennis Players: Don't Be a Victim of Counterfeiting!
• Purchase only from authorized dealers -- search here to find an Authorized Dealer near you.
• Avoid online sites or sellers based out of China.
• Avoid buying from online auction sites where you don't know the dealer or his reputation. Avoid buying "used" frames online.
• If you are not sure, please send any suspicious web sites addresses to
• Find out more about the counterfeiting issue by reading this recent RSI article
Above all: If the deal looks too good to be true, there's a good chance it's a fake.
How can I be sure that I purchase authentic products?
The only way to be sure is to always buy your tennis equipment from an authorized dealer.
Too late? If you feel you may have purchased a fake tennis product, what can you do? Here are some options to consider:
1) Please report any concerns or other suspicious activity so we can bring to the attention of the racquet manufacturers by completing this form.
2) Dispute the charges with your credit card company
3) File a claim with PayPal (if you used their services)
4) Report the incident to the Internet Crime Compliance Center at www.ic3.gov
Where are fake racquets made?
The vast majority (over 90%) of counterfeit tennis products are made in China, however they can be made anywhere. Counterfeit manufacturers have been investigated and raided in China, Thailand and Vietnam, to name just a few locations. Let's Keep Tennis Real.