If you don’t know already, Intellectual Property theft affects every industry and as a small business owner, it is something I deal with and fight against every day because it makes it very hard to survive. When you have an idea or design and you work hours upon hours, pour blood, sweat and money into starting your business and putting your ideas out there and then you find your images, your name, your dress designs on thousands of rogue websites selling counterfeit versions of you….well, you can imagine the frustration!
What makes it worse is when you hear countless stories from brides who ordered from these sites, being scammed into receiving a dress that is nothing like the one in the photo and then have nobody to turn to because it’s not actually the designer’s dress. On our website, LizFields.com, we have created a “Buyer Beware” section to try and educate women shopping for wedding dresses or bridesmaids dresses on how to spot these fakes and we even created a tool where you can type in the web address where you saw a Liz Fields dress and we will tell you right away if this is a counterfeit site or an authorized retailer. Unfortunately, not many take the time or even think to check with us before making a purchase.
For a little while now, I have been in contact with the US Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center, which does so much to support small businesses like mine from IP theft and educate us on what we can do to protect ourselves. Recently, they gave me the opportunity to be part of a panel of speakers at a Small Business event at Capitol Hill. Yesterday this briefing took place and I was able to tell my story to Congress staffers with the hope that it would resonate and some reforms could begin to take place.
I loved Washington, DC since going to college there, but now, I have a renewed respect for all those who work to try and make reforms on behalf of us. It’s no easy task…and as I saw yesterday, a lot goes into getting these conversations started and then keeping them going to the finish line. Regardless, it reminded me that we are so lucky to live in a country where these conversations are even possible.
I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people and I look forward to continuing my effort, no matter how small, in getting heard and reform started.
For now, please educate yourselves and others around you. If the price is too good to be true, then it is probably not authentic. If you aren’t sure about the Liz Fields dress listing you are seeing on a site, check with us on our Buyer Beware section. You can also check out Bridal Beware more more information on counterfeit gowns and shopping tips. If it’s something else you’re shopping for, check with the company’s website to make sure you are purchasing from an authorized retailer. I will be posting some resources and links to this blog shortly so please stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated on my journey.