Guard against being disappointed when you choose your gown. Counterfeit websites are selling gowns and not delivering the goods. They are hijacking established designers’ names, doing cheap knockoffs in poor fabrics and workmanship and even send a different style if they can’t supply the style you wanted. There are at least 1,100 wedding and prom counterfeit websites and they all originate in the Far East. And there is no way that the disappointed bride can get satisfaction because they close down with some regularity and open up with a new name. Is nothing being done to protect the designers and the shopper? Yes. There is.
In February of 2014, The American Bridal and Prom Industry Association (ABPIA) was granted a huge milestone in its fight against counterfeit merchants by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The ABPIA had filed multiple lawsuits against the owners of many of these websites seeking damages. They asked the Court to restrain those website owners from marketing and selling counterfeit dresses and formal wear. The Courts sided with the ABPIA.
- Freezes any merchant accounts of the websites maintained by third-party payment providers such as PayPal.
- Directs the registrars of the domains to disable them and render them non transferable until the further Order of the Court. These third party accounts will remain frozen until the further directive of the Court.
As of June 2014, none of the defendants named in any of these additional lawsuits had filed any response or otherwise opposed the relief sought by ABPIA.
In addition to the lawsuits filed, the organization’s anti-counterfeiting efforts also include pursuing the cooperation of Internet search engines, including Google. They set up a dialogue with Google, Inc. last year to persuade the internet service provider to prohibit illegitimate merchants from using Google’s Sponsored Ads, Sponsored Images, and AdWords to generate traffic to websites using the protected trademarks and images of ABPIA members.
How to Get the Real Thing:
- Only deal with established retail stores and wedding boutiques.
- Pay close attention to the advertised retail price because retail prices of established designers are consistent across the board.
- Visit the brand name’s “Where To Buy” webpage or store locator.
- Challenge the authenticity of the brand name being advertised. Every authentic dress will bear a hangtag and inside garment label with the brand’s logo.
- Take note of the pictures displayed on the website or advertisement. If the model has a blurred out or pixelated face, cropped o head or displays any other suspicious photo-changing feature, the website or advertisement may be selling counterfeit dresses.
- Visit the website’s Contact Us page. An American or Canadian telephone should be listed, not just an email address. It is also important to double check that the telephone number isn’t being forwarded to China or another foreign country.
Originally published in Today’s Bride magazine, Spring/Summer 2015.