Ma was slated to deliver a keynote speech at the convention, taking place May 18-20 in Orlando, Florida, but a blog post Tuesday revealed that Alibaba President Michael Evans will address the crowd instead.
The announcement followed Friday’s decision by the nonprofit to suspend Alibaba’s membership, as well as the recently announced “general membership” category, after it found itself in hot water for allowing the company to join last month.
“Given the IACC’s desire for additional time to reflect upon the viability of its general membership category, Alibaba feels it best that Jack Ma postpone his appearance,” a spokesperson wrote. “The most recent IACC decision will not impact our aggressive fight against counterfeits.”
Some of the IACC’s brand members have found that hard to believe, given the track record of Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces for selling fakes. Michael Kors quit the coalition within days of the news, calling the Chinese company its “most dangerous and damaging adversary.” Kering-owned Gucci America—currently in the midst of legal proceedings against Alibaba in New York federal court—and Tiffany & Co. also canceled their memberships.
“Alibaba’s strategy has consistently been to provide lip service to supporting brand enforcement efforts, while doing as little as possible to impede the massive flow of counterfeit merchandise on its platforms,” Lee Sporn, general counsel for Michael Kors, wrote in a letter sent to the IACC.
Despite Alibaba’s suspension, the IACC said it remains committed to working with the company. In a letter sent to its members last week, the board of directors said, “This will not affect our existing relationship or joint initiatives with them. We continue to stand by our inclusive approach to working with intermediaries.”