Houston entrepreneur, Owner of Fandress, alleges intellectual property theft by major retailer

HOUSTON - A Houston business owner, Allison Brockman, who makes dresses for Astros fans, says she feels she’s been ripped off. The entrepreneur, owner of Fandress, caught our attention on social media.

Her FanDress post now has thousands of views, which shows Brockman inside a sporting goods store saying a dress now sold there looks awfully similar to one she sells.

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"When I saw it, my heart just sank, and I was like oh no," says Brockman.

For nearly two years, Brockman has had her company, Fandress, making dresses with baseball team’s names and colors out of authentic jerseys and added skirts, giving a tailored, feminine fit after she says she couldn’t find a jersey dress anywhere.

"The top fits exactly like a dress bodice would, bringing that waist in," Brockman explains.

The small business owner says she applied, is still waiting and hopeful for a licensing agreement with Major League Baseball, and she has a patent pending.

"What makes the women’s product unique is the drawstring and the girl’s dress unique is the twirl skirt," says Brockman.

How many employees does she have? "It’s just me. I do all, I do everything. I model the dresses. I sew the dresses. I do the website, inventory."

Being a one-woman show, this Houston small business owner claims she attempted to partner with OuterStuff in NY, which boasts of 40 plus factories and nine distribution centers on its website.

"They just ordered some of my dresses. I requested a meeting, and then from that meeting, I was told great product, but we can’t really help you. I said, ‘why did you order my dresses, this big company, why did you place this order? What did you do with them?’ And he said, 'well, we hung them up in our inspiration room, so we can come out with something similar," Brockman says.

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Now, a dress by OuterStuff that Brockman says looks very similar to hers is now sold in Academy Stores.

"To see someone just make a phone call and distribute it in a way that would have been a dream come true for you, it’s really hard," says Brockman while choking back tears.

"When you own a small business, and you’re producing things, you need to take efforts before you sell it on the marketplace to protect yourself," says FOX 26 Legal Analyst Chris Tritico, who is reminding small business owners to copyright and patent your products or work prior to putting them up for sale. But he says a patent pending helps.

"That is some protection for her original work. So she should be contacting someone who protects intellectual property and be looking at whether or not she can file suit over this," Tritico explains.

OuterStuff sent the following statement: "We have no comment at this time. Please ask the person, or a representative of Fandress, who is making this accusation to contact us, and we will respond to them directly."

Academy says, "Academy Sports + Outdoors only sells products from officially licensed vendors and manufacturers, including this one licensed by the MLB."

"Throughout all this I feel so encouraged because I’ve seen other moms have come out and said this has happened to me, this has happened to someone I know. It’s just not right," says Brockman.