Chinese court jails prolific golf equipment counterfeiters

A court in Pudong, China, has handed out jail sentences to 15 people involved in producing an estimated millions of dollars' worth of counterfeit golfing equipment.

Thirteen of the defendants were convicted of counterfeiting registered trademarks assigned to brand owners like Titleist, TaylorMade, PXG, Ping, Callaway and Cleveland/Srixon, and two were convicted of selling them.

The case was prompted by what the US Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group has described as the largest-ever seizure of fake equipment last year, which netted 120,000 products worth an estimated $1.8m from 10 locations in four Chinese cities.

The counterfeit products confiscated in the raids include golf clubs, club heads, shafts, grips, bags, and labels, among other items.

The entire network – including manufacturer of the club heads, shaft and grip suppliers, and owners of assembling workshops, a shipping centre and online chat rooms – was "rooted out completely," according to the Working Group.

At the time, the operation was hailed as a signal of Chinese law enforcement's increasing willingness to work with foreign brand owners and take action against counterfeiters, even in the midst of the pandemic.

The 15 defendants were sentenced to a cumulative total of 42 years, and also received criminal fines of RMB 3.7m (around $575,000). A 16th defendant is due to be sentenced at a later date.

"We are very pleased with the outcome in this case, and we hope it serves as a strong message to any potential counterfeiters and sellers of counterfeit golf products in China or elsewhere that this behaviour will not be tolerated," said Jud Hawken, associate general counsel for Ping.

"We will continue to work closely with law enforcement across the globe to take down these counterfeiters, eliminate the selling of these fake products, and protect golfers everywhere," he added.

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