Fall is here. The leaves are turning in the Pacific NW, the rain has arrived, and the temperature has dropped. All signs that Halloween is just around the corner.
Recently, I went on a family vacation to Disneyland in California. We spent the entire first week of October there. Part of the reason we went was that Disneyland does a Halloween Party 2-3 times a week during October. It was fun. All the kids and all the adults got dressed up in costumes, all “Disney-Safe” and fairly wholesome for the most part. Pirates, Ninjas, and more Princesses than you could ever imagine. But not criminals…or thieves.
Which brings me to the real reason for this post.
In business, we all rely heavily on our Intellectual Property. It’s the fruit of our hard work and the root of what ”Shared Success” is all about at Classic Exhibits and our proud Distributor Network.
We take great pride in and go to great lengths to make our shared IP available to Authorized Classic Exhibits Distributors. That IP, in part, includes our designs and our Exhibit Design Search images, along with our patented products.
Recently, we were directed to a website for an online exhibit company based in Southern California. We were informed that the online company was using our images, along with Classic kit numbers.
When I went to the site, I honestly saw something that I never expected to see. Entire galleries, splash page images, detail pages, text, etc. that had been stolen from either the Classic Exhibits EDS or from one of our trusted Classic Distributor Branded EDS sites. It was more than shocking. Mainly because there was not so much as a tiny bit of effort to hide the fact that they stole the images… even the text that indicated they were an authorized Classic Distributor. We have seen this before from overseas websites, but they were smart enough to only choose a dozen or so designs. Just enough to give the website “exhibit design credibility.”
You might think that is the worst of it…but there is more. We also found, after receiving a call from an end-user, that they were selling exhibits as “Classic Exhibits built displays,” but delivering cobbled together versions using various products on the market, none of which were from Classic Exhibits. In one case, a client was so shocked by the abysmal quality that they called us to complain. In response, we did two things: 1. We explained to them that their display was not manufactured by Classic, and 2. We replaced the exhibit at our expense.
While my wish would be to share the link with you, there is a legal progress that prevents me from doing so. But I did want you to know. Often this happens under the radar. But unethical people who lack creativity often become cyberthieves willing to take your hard work and use it to line their pockets.
We all know that websites can present a much different company than really exists at the street address on their contact pages. And in this case, what appears to be a real professional business was nothing more than a thief with a laptop, mouse, and PayPal account. Sadly, this business has been operating “legitimately” in our industry in various forms for over 20 years. Truly a “trick” experience for unsuspecting customers.
I hope you and your families have a great and safe Halloween this coming Friday.
May the fall business rush continue. Be well.