02 Apr 2019

Alibaba on global mission to lead in IP protection

Alibaba aims to be global leader in IP protection, its president Mike Evans tells the Luxury Law Summit in London today.

Micahel Evans speaking at Luxury Law Summit Shutterstock

The president of Alibaba said that when he joined Alibaba four years ago, the Luxury Law Summit was not a group he would have wanted to address as Alibaba definitely had  "a problem with counterfeiting on our platform." The company got to grips with the issue as it "discovered if you want to be a leader in this business, you need to be a leader in intellectual property protection." He added: "We've made a lot of progress, but we’re not done." Mr Evans, who said he spends nearly a third of his time on the issue, also highlighted the constant need to keep developing the necessary technology to combat sophisticated counterfeit operations, especially artificial intelligence and machine learning. He explained: "We need you to be safe on our platform, but we also have to have the technology to back that up."

Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance expands

Marking the two-year anniversary of the Alibaba Anti-counterfeiting Alliance (AACA),the firm says the alliance has added 12 new collaborators so far this year. Coach, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and Fossil feature among the cohort of new members joining in 2019. The alliance now has 132 brand owners in 12 industry categories, coming from 16 countries and regions.

IP pain points

Alibaba has received a wave of support from over 130 brands that share their goals of reducing, if not completely eradicating, the activities of counterfeiters using international brand names. The organisation revealed figures that it had helped in the closure of 524 production rackets, arrests of 1227 suspects and seizure of fakes valued at 3.6 billion yuan (US$530 million). In a high profile case, Shanghai police arrested a gang that made fake Dyson hair dryers and seized about 400 fakes, 1,500 half-finished products and over 200,000 parts. Alibaba platform officer Jessie Zheng said, ‘we've been pushing for clear penalties for counterfeiting  from national  legislators.’ Chief platform governance officer Jessie Zheng said: 'The AACA was created two years ago to solve the pain points of the IP protection industry. We are very grateful for the collaboration in this journey with all the stakeholders such as brand owners, law enforcement, and industry experts.’

Brand protection benchmark

Alibaba stated that 97 per cent of takedown requests from AACA members are being processed in 24 hours (during business days). Alibaba senior vice president Michael Yao said: 'Over the past two years, we have used our technology and data to strengthen the fight against counterfeits. The AACA is now the benchmark and model for brand protection in China and around the world.’ Last week the AACA held a second year anniversary conference in Shanghai, attracting over 300 delegates from 16 countries. Most represented AACA member brands, but a number of law enforcement experts and academics also attended. Participants work together in six areas: online monitoring and protection, a product test-buy program, offline investigations and enforcement actions, industry-law enforcement workshops, litigation tactics and public awareness campaigns. AACA members are divided into industry working groups to allow for better information-sharing within their business sectors. Mr Yao said the alliance intends to increase its membership and also host more outreach events globally.