Alibaba launches collaborative system to fight fakes

Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group is driving forward proof it is tackling fake goods following accusations its sites carry counterfeit products.

During Alibaba’s hosting of an intellectual property conference in Hangzhou, China, the firm unveiled a new online system designed to track and remove counterfeit products.

The "IP Joint-Force System" expands on Alibaba's "Good Faith Takedown" programme from last year and aims to streamline IP-related communications between brands and Alibaba, as well as the removal of suspected counterfeits.

"E-commerce has become a way of life for consumers both in China and around the world. As the internet sector continues to evolve, brands and online marketplaces alike face new IP enforcement challenges. As the leading online marketplace, we have a responsibility to all of our constituents to govern our platform and find innovative solutions," said Jessie Zheng, Alibaba’s chief platform governance officer.

Brands in the existing "Good Faith Takedown" scheme – which aims to expedite the notice-takedown process for brands that submit valid counterfeit complaints – will be eligible for the new IP Joint-Force System.

Brands that will participate in the first phase of the IP Joint-Force System include Adidas, Apple, Procter & Gamble, Mars and Philips.

Under the new system, each brand will be assigned a dedicated online portal and Alibaba account manager to enhance collaboration.

The system will enable Alibaba to directly and efficiently seek information from rights holders regarding suspected counterfeit product listings, which Alibaba, as a third-party marketplace, is unable to authenticate on its own with full certainty. The system will also allow brands to identify the authenticity of a product and easily notify Alibaba of the infringing listing, with Alibaba immediately removing the listing.

"The IP Joint-Force System is a revolutionary industry solution that will redefine how IP enforcement is conducted in the digital age – where brands and e-commerce marketplaces must work collectively and strategically to combat counterfeiters," said Matthew Bassiur, head of global IP enforcement at Alibaba Group.

"This is one of several game-changing approaches that Alibaba will be advancing to both simplify and greatly enhance our overall enforcement process."

The system launch follows Alibaba’s ejection from the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) in May, just months after the firm had joined. The move followed the withdrawal of a number of brands from the Coalition.

As a result there is heightened pressure for Alibaba to be seen to be stronger in its approach to tackling fakes and to be more collaborative with brands.

As such, in a bid to engage with international brands and the wider IP-enforcement community, during the conference the company also called for more co-operation with brand manufacturers in tackling the black market.

The firm claimed the new IP Joint-Force System highlighted how Alibaba was working closely with rights holders to eradicate counterfeits both online and offline.

"In the face of such a complex problem we can’t be complaining about each other, or criticising each other… We have to have everybody involved and work together to do it," Zheng, said during the conference, which was attended by more than 100 domestic Chinese and international brands and trade associations.

"In this battle it’s you and me. It can’t be you doing the work and me watching or me doing the work and you talking. Our only choice is to join forces."

In 2015, Alibaba proactively removed more than 120 million infringing product listings from its marketplaces, which is eight times the number of fake products removed based on takedown requests from brands, the company said.

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