A Fulton County judge has ordered that law enforcement and agents of the National Football League may seize counterfeit tickets and merchandise from 200 unknown people expected to violate the trademarks of the league, the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots in the days just before and after Sunday’s Super Bowl in Atlanta.
Superior Court Chief Judge Robert McBurney held that “Does 1 Through 200, inclusive” would cause “immediate, continuous, and irreparable injury, loss, and damage in the form of infringement of Plaintiffs’ trademarks and injury to Plaintiffs’ reputation and property rights.”
Counsel for Does 1 through 200 could not be identified or reached for comment. If they existed, they might say they appreciated this warning from McBurney, in bold, italicized type: “Nothing in this Order authorizes the use of force against or the seizure or detention of any person solely on the basis of possessing or trafficking in Counterfeit Merchandise and/or Counterfeit Tickets.”
Counsel for the NFL, Charlie Henn of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, said he filed the pleadings Monday morning, and after a hearing, McBurney issued the injunction around noon. It is effective from Thursday through Monday.
Henn said Georgia’s anti-counterfeiting statute allows ex parte relief because, “The nature of counterfeit trade is also criminal.” That is, if defendants were told in advance that agents believed their products to be fake, the evidence would quickly disappear.
The trademarks include various versions of the NFL, Rams and Patriots names, along with: “SUPER SUNDAY,” “ON FIELD,” “ATLIII,” “MOB SQUAD,” “BELLESTRATOR,” “DO YOUR JOB,” “NO DAYS OFF” and “UNEQUIVOCALLY THE SWEETEST.”
The order says defendants will receive a receipt for their seized items in case they challenge the seizure. The NFL has posted a $30,000 bond to compensate defendants if a court finds their property has been wrongfully restrained.