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Holy shirt! England fans face £4,000 fines for wearing fake jerseys at Euros

England and Scotland fans could be fined £4,000 if they wear a counterfeit football jersey at the Euros this summer.
England and Scotland fans could be fined £4,000 if they wear a counterfeit football jersey at the Euros this summer.

England and Scotland fans could be fined £4,000 if they wear a counterfeit football jersey at the Euros this summer.

German laws on trademarks mean police can do spot checks on tourists and slap fans with fines of up to £4,000 for knock-off kits.

It means Brits abroad will need to be vigilant and stay away from prosecution by buying authentic jerseys.

I fully understand the need to protect official partners and rights holders, but I do also have sympathy for the fans

Merrick Haydon, , rEvolution

Sympathy for England fans

Merrick Haydon, Executive VP of the UK arm of the sports marketing agency rEvolution said: “I fully understand the need to protect official partners and rights holders, but I do also have sympathy for the fans.

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“Naturally, the counterfeit football shirt market spikes and receives more scrutiny around international tournaments such as the Euros and World Cup.

“Nowadays, clubs and countries release so many kits each year and prices seem to have gone through the roof recently, so many opt for the cheaper, counterfeit options.  Clamping down on counterfeit football shirts is not a new phenomenon.”

Both England and Scotland begin their Euros campaigns in mid-June with the Three Lions among the favourites to win the European Championships.

But what exactly is the law?

Of the potential shirt saga, Roman Brtka, Munich-based partner at global law firm Ashurst, said: “Trademark owners are entitled to prevent all third parties not having their consent from using their trademark.

“In Germany the EU Trademark regulation and the German Trademark Act prohibit, for example, the manufacturing, distribution and sale of such products. Damage claims of trade mark owners can be enormous depending, for example, on the value of the trademark and the number of counterfeit products sold.

“Trademark owners jointly with the authorities regularly conduct random checks at big events like trade fairs and sport events.

“Private individuals, however, are not subject to trademark law if they act for private purposes only (e.g. buying a counterfeit football jersey for private use at home).”

If the traveller is wearing a counterfeit jersey when entering Germany, customs will probably turn a blind eye

Roman Brtka, Ashurst

Shirt solutions

Adds Haydon: “Rather than any authorities doing spot checks and fining fans, many of whom may be unwitting fans for counterfeit shirts, perhaps those shirts could instead be removed more diplomatically and repurposed to good use to help clothe people desperately in need of warm, clean clothing in war torn countries around the world.”

Wiebke Baars, partner at Taylor Wessing’s Hamburg office, concludes: “Carrying one piece for private use will not be prosecuted, but the trademark owner can claim damages for any commercial import, distribution or sale of fake goods.

“Furthermore, trade with fake goods is a criminal offence which can be sanctioned with fines.”

Sports Analyst Alex Hemming from freebets.ie said: “Always buy authentic goods, keep your receipts, and be aware of the regulations to ensure a trouble-free trip.”