Alibaba fights back in wake of IACC defections

Alibaba signChinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has expanded a counterfeit listing takedown initiative as it tries to reassure brand owners it is serious about tackling the problem.

The announcement that it will expand the MarketSafe programme comes shortly after it joined the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) as a general member, which prompted defections from Michael Kors and Gucci America.

Alibaba and the IACC claim that MarketSafe has a 100 per cent takedown rate when companies stand behind their claims and is resulting in 10,000 listings being removed each month. They now suggest that an expansion to the programme will take place later this year.

Nearly 5,000 sellers' storefronts have been closed and permanently banned from Alibaba's marketplace since the programme was unveiled in 2013, they say, and more than 180,000 infringing product listings have been removed.

"We are excited to provide expanded access for brands and rights holders to the IACC MarketSafe programme," said Matthew Bassiur, Alibaba's head of intellectual property enforcement.

"This program exemplifies the tangible and mutual success that can be achieved when brands, trade associations, governments and intermediaries work together to combat counterfeiting,” he added.

Meanwhile, Alibaba's Taobao website has suggested that from later this month (May 20), sellers placing listings for luxury goods will be required to provide proof - via an upload to the site - that the items are genuine.

The intention is to require sellers to provide an invoice or authorisation letter from the brand owner that the goods are authentic, with listings automatically removed if this is not present. There is as yet no indication how the company will ensure that the invoices or letters themselves are genuine.

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