Alibaba says IP-related takedown requests fall in 2017

Alibaba is claiming significant progress in its fight against counterfeit products on its platforms, saying brand-owner takedown requests fell dramatically last year.

The number of requests were down 42 per cent on the prior year, and 95 per cent of them were handled within 24 hours – a 68 per cent reduction in processing time on 2016’s average. It says the fall in requests came alongside a 17 per cent increase in the number of right-holders registered with its recently-introduced Intellectual Property Platform (IPP).

All told, 240,000 stores on Alibaba’s Taobao platform – which is currently listed in as a Notorious Market by the US Trade Representative (USTR) – were closed down during the year as the company tried to clamp down on ‘bad actors’ on its platforms.

Delivering a progress update at its IPR Protection Summit in Seattle, Alibaba also pointed to a big increase in the impact of its pre-emptive technology designed to prevent counterfeit goods listings being uploaded in the first place. The number of listings removed before going live was 27 times the number taken down as a result of rights-holder requests.

“Mutual trust and collaboration are keys to the success of IP protection. Alibaba wants to collaborate with all stakeholders – whether they’re rights holders, agencies, trade associations, law enforcement – to keep leading the best practice in IP protection,” said Jessie Zheng, the company’s chief platform governance officer.

“We want to work with our stakeholders and continue to improve our IPR protection work and achieve more breakthroughs in 2018,” she added. Earlier this month, Alibaba said it had signed up 75 additional brand owners to its Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance (AACA), tripling its size since it was formed last year with 30 members.

The partnership allows it to step up joint, anonymous purchases of branded goods with AACA members, pooling more information and building a stronger counterfeit database.

The Chinese online retailer also trumpeted the knock-on effect of that activity in terms of enforcement, with 1,910 leads that resulted in the arrest of 1,606 suspects, the closure of 1,328 facilities, and the seizure of RMB 4.3 billion ($675m) worth of non-genuine goods.

Giving the view of law enforcement at the event, Peter Ratcliffe, who heads the Intellectual Property Crime Unit at City of London Police, emphasized the importance of aligning law enforcement, academia, and the private sector. Over the past year, he said, Alibaba has coordinated with the City of London Police in blacklisting government-confirmed pirate sites to ensure they do not inadvertently receive any Alibaba advertisements.

“You can’t investigate IP crimes by yourself,” Ratcliffe said. “Alibaba has become a very important partner to us.”

After being listed on the Notorious Markets list for the second year in a row, Alibaba released a damning rebuttal of the move, claiming it was being made a “scapegoat by the USTR to win points in a highly politicised environment”.

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