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Federal judge in NY allows shutdown of China-based websites in NFL fake merchandise lawsuit

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - The NFL won a court order Wednesday to shut down the operators of nearly 1,500 China-based websites accused of selling fake NFL merchandise, continuing the league's effort to counter booming counterfeit sales of its popular player jerseys and other merchandise.

In a lawsuit, the NFL accused the website operators of being part of a single network of counterfeiters who sell fake jerseys, headwear and other merchandise bearing the trademarks of the league or its 32 teams.

The league said in court papers that the websites are designed to appear to be authorized NFL web stores or approved by the league to sell genuine NFL products. It said the websites are in English, accept payment in U.S. dollars, claim to provide superior customer service and conceal the fact that they are based overseas.

"The infringing websites sometimes explicitly claim that the products for sale are 'authentic,' 'genuine,' or 'official,'" the league's lawsuit said. It had sought statutory damages of $2 million for each trademark violation and $250,000 for each infringing domain name.

Wednesday's ruling, signed by U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in New York City, gives the league the ability to learn the identities of those running the websites and more about their finances.

The league said it has used similar lawsuits to disable more than 2,500 websites.

No one showed up in court to counter the NFL's claims.

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