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 NORTH READING, Mass., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- "Rip us off, go to jail". That's the warning issued today to counterfeit operators throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Far East by Converse(R) Inc., the largest U.S. manufacturer of athletic shoes.
 "This is no idle threat," said Converse President and CEO Gib Ford. "We're taking a tough stand against operators importing and distributing bogus versions of our world famous Chuck Taylor(R) All Star(R) shoe.
 "Counterfeiting is a crime. We have no hesitation in working with the appropriate legal authorities, customs officials, governments and police across the U.S., Europe, Latin America and the Far East to protect our company, its products and our valued customers from purchasing inferior shoes," added Ford.
 Some $100 billion a year in world trade is lost to counterfeit goods which surface everywhere from flea markets to department stores. Because counterfeiting involves vast sums of money, sophisticated international crime rings and drug czars are often behind the business. Not surprisingly, law enforcement authorities around the globe are growing increasingly worried at these activities. Converse, among many other manufacturers of leading consumer brands, has made an extensive financial commitment to the investigation and legal prosecution of counterfeiters.
 One of the more visible ways Converse has increased its anti-counterfeit efforts this year involved running full page ads in leading trade publications in the U.S. and Europe, warning retailers and distributors that the penalty for selling counterfeit goods could be jail. Converse is also inviting consumers to help in this effort by asking them to let Converse know about any suspect goods.
 While laws against counterfeiters vary from country to country, there is greater recognition by law enforcement and customs officials and government agencies that a more consistent effort and more severe penalties are required to stop this crime.
 "Converse has been more successful in prosecuting counterfeiters because the laws are being strengthened around the world, enabling all consumer brands to put more teeth into their anti-counterfeit efforts," said Jack Green, Converse senior vice president and general counsel.
 Green went on to note that Converse is currently involved in a number of counterfeit investigations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America, as well as having been one of the major players in closing down a multi-million dollar international counterfeit ring against brothers Byron and Glenn McLaughlin. Based in the U.S. and operating in South Korea, Mexico and Chile, the McLaughlin brothers were involved in shipping tens of thousands of pairs of counterfeit All Star sneakers a month into the United States.
 More recently, Converse has successfully prosecuted many counterfeit cases in the United Kingdom, Greece, Germany and Spain and continues to support ongoing investigations in these as well as other countries. Most surprisingly, some of the counterfeit product appearing in the Spanish market is known by Converse to be manufactured in Europe as opposed to the Far East, a favorite source for counterfeiters.
 After a hard fought and costly 15 year battle, Converse recently regained ownership of the All Star trademark in Brazil, winning back its exclusive right to the classic ankle patch trademark. According to Converse's Green, the All Star is the most popular shoe in Brazil, with hundreds of thousands of pairs sold each month. However, over the past 15 years, none of the millions of pairs of canvas All Star sneakers sold in Brazil have been the authentic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star.
 "What is Converse but its trademarks?" adds Green. "The extent to which Converse or any company in our position, doesn't protect its trademarks is the extent to which it is losing its main saleable asset. We will eradicate fakes which we find and ensure that counterfeiters are prosecuted appropriately."
 Converse President Ford stressed the company wants to protect the consumer from being duped by fake products. "Our heritage is important to both Converse and our consumer and we know they want to buy the original All Star sneaker, not an imitation. The consumer wants to buy the authentic product, not a cheap copy, and our job is to ensure the consumer's exposure to counterfeits is severely reduced."
 Converse is the largest U.S. manufacturer of athletic footwear and has been making the world renowned canvas Chuck Taylor All Star for 76 years. Since their introduction in 1917, over 520 million pairs of authentic All Star sneakers have been sold, with some 20 million pairs shipped worldwide during the past two years.
 -0- 10/14/93
 /CONTACT: Jennifer Murray, 508-664-7521, or Ellen Pulda, 508-664-7522, both of Converse/

CO: Converse Inc. ST: Massachusetts IN: TEX SU:

DJ-CM -- NE015 -- 2449 10/14/93 16:55 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 14, 1993

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