Homeland Security’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement group (ICE) has a history of seizing stuff without understanding even the most basic concepts around intellectual property. After all, these are the same meatheads who seized some blogs for alleged copyright infringement, and then had to return some of them over a year later, after they realized it was a mistake. ICE also has a history of using big sporting events to kiss up to the multi-billion dollar sports organizations by shutting down small businesses, protecting Americans from unlicensed underwear. And, of course, what bigger sporting event is there than the Super Bowl. Every year they make a bunch of seizures related to the Superbowl, and this year was no different.
ICE agents gleefully were patrolling Phoenix looking for clothes to seize. But there was just one, rather large, problem with how they went about it. It appears that the people in charge of all this, didn’t know the first thing about the “law” they were supposedly enforcing. Seizing counterfeits is about stopping trademark infringement. But not everything using a trademark is infringing. Trademark, after all, is a form of a consumer protection law, designed to protect people from buying one thing, believing it’s another. If there’s no likelihood of confusion, then ICE isn’t supposed to be seizing it (and, yes, there is also dilution of trademark, but ICE isn’t supposed to be seizing products that dilute someone’s trademark — just those that are “counterfeit”). But that’s not, apparently, how ICE sees things