Alibaba's Ma snubs IACC after 'regrettable' suspension

Alibaba Jack MaAlibaba chairman Jack Ma has pulled out of a presentation at this week's International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) meeting.

Ma had been due to deliver the keynote at the IACC's Spring conference in Orlando, which starts tomorrow, but has been replaced at the last minute by Alibaba president Michael Evans.

The company has also issued a statement describing the IACC's decision to suspend its membership as "a step in the wrong direction and regrettable."  A statement issued in Chinese went further, describing the suspension as a "humiliation."

"We believe the most effective way to solve the counterfeiting problem is through strong industry collaboration, said the Chinese e-commerce giant's head of corporate communications Jennifer Kuperman.

"Intermediaries like Alibaba must be an integral part of the solution," she added, asserting that Alibaba "has had a zero-tolerance policy towards counterfeit goods."

The timing of Alibaba's suspension from the IACC's membership - along with other intermediary companies - is particularly embarrassing as the role of intermediaries and collaboration with brand owners is a key theme of the conference.

"Unfortunately, those who pressured the IACC on this decision prefer a confrontational approach: pitting brands against Alibaba and other industry participants in the hopes of prolonged litigation," continued Kuperman.

Three brandname companies - Michael Kors, Gucci America and Tiffany - withdrew their membership the wake of Alibaba's accession to the IACC.

Michael Kors had previously referred to Alibaba and its Taobao online marketplace as "our most dangerous and damaging adversary."

"The world today is vastly different from the era when the IACC was created. Counterfeiters are becoming increasingly high-tech, global, and hidden," said Kuperman.

"We believe brands must look ahead to a world where the internet and online commerce play a significant role in the way consumers live and shop. Now is the time for partnership and action."

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