Alibaba to fight fake goods

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/16 22:08:39

Chinese company forges anti-counterfeiting alliance with established brands

Fake LV bags confiscated by policemen in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province in May 2016. Photo: IC

Fake LV bags confiscated by policemen in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province in May 2016. Photo: IC

Alibaba Group Holding has forged an anti-counterfeiting alliance with about 20 established brands, a signal that the e-commerce giant may take a more aggressive stance this year to improve its reputation.

Alibaba touted the alliance, which was launched on Monday in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, as the world's first group to employ big data in the fight against counterfeit products.

The adoption of Internet technologies is expected to make cracking down on counterfeits, both online and offline, more effective, efficient and transparent, according to a press release Alibaba sent to the Global Times on Monday.

The initial members of the alliance include about 20 internationally established brands such as luxury fashion brand LV, jewelry retailer Swarovski and consumer electronics makers Huawei, Sony, Samsung and Canon.

"The move aims to show that Alibaba pays attention to the protection of intellectual property rights, improving the Chinese company's reputation while it is speeding up its expansion outside of China," Zhang Yi, CEO of Guangzhou-based market consultancy iiMedia Research, told the Global Times Monday.

Joint efforts

Alibaba, which initiated the alliance, selected the members through "prudent assessment," according to the press release, which did not provide details about the selection process.

The selected brands already have their own teams to work on the counterfeiting crackdown in China, Alibaba's PR representative told the Global Times on Monday.

What they will be looking for from Alibaba will be the Chinese platform's big data and links with government authorities, said the PR representative.

"We signed MOUs with all sorts of local regulators and supervisors, including police stations and commerce bureaus," which will enable the alliance to track down on sources of fake goods more quickly, he noted.

Based on Alibaba's big data, Chinese regulators shut down about 675 producers and retailers of counterfeit goods between September 2015 and August 2016.

This is not the first time that Alibaba has joined hands with brands to crack down on fake goods.

The company said that it has previously partnered with more than 18,000 international brands such as Apple, Nike, LV and Cartier.

Counterfeits complaints

However, despite efforts Alibaba has been subject to complaints over the past few years regarding the sale of counterfeit goods on its online consumer-to-consumer platform Taobao.

In 2015, American Apparel & Footwear Association and Paris-based Kering SA, which owns well-known luxury brands like Gucci and Balenciaga, accused Alibaba of selling counterfeits on its platforms. 

Last December, US commerce authorities put Taobao back on their annual list of notorious markets that sell fake goods, which reportedly caused a blow to Alibaba's reputation.

In response, Alibaba suggested that the US government's decision was influenced by the political climate, according to a statement the Chinese company sent to the Global Times late December.

Weeks after that incident, Alibaba's founder Jack Ma Yun visited US President-elect Donald Trump and pledged to create jobs for Americans by selling US goods through its online marketplaces.

"Forging a close tie with the Trump administration can send some positive signals to US investors, who are concerned about the future of Alibaba," said Zhang.

The analyst predicted that Alibaba will face fewer complaints about the sales of fake goods, if the company reduces its reliance on Taobao, which is hard to regulate in comparison with business-to-consumer Tmall.




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