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Alibaba Joins Anti-Counterfeit Coalition

Alibaba Group is stepping up its fight against fakes.

The Chinese e-commerce company, which has repeatedly come under fire from industry groups for selling counterfeit goods on its Taobao and Tmall platforms, has joined the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), a nonprofit dedicated to combating product counterfeiting and piracy.

According to a press release Wednesday, Alibaba is the first e-commerce company to join the coalition.

“Preserving the integrity of Alibaba’s marketplaces is a top priority. Counterfeiting is a global, industry-wide issue and effective collaboration with brands, retailers, trade associations, governments and other industry partners is a key component to our overall success,” offered Matthew Bassiur, Alibaba’s vice president and head of global IP enforcement since last December.

He added, “IACC membership will further enhance our earnest efforts to forge closer relationships with brands as we continue to explore and implement innovative solutions to address counterfeiting. We strongly value our partnership with the IACC and its members and are proud to be a part of this prestigious coalition.”

Bob Barchiesi, IACC president, continued, “With the pace at which the market is moving, the successful e-commerce platforms will be those who build the right strategic partnerships to ensure safe and trusted marketplaces. We encourage more industry players to join in our efforts.”

Alibaba and IACC began working together in 2013 with the development of the MarketSafe program, a strategic collaboration to help the coalition’s members identify and take down infringing listings on Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces via an expedited removal procedure.

The company claimed that since its launch, the initiative has resulted in a 100 percent take-down rate when companies stand behind their claims. It also said that nearly 5,000 sellers’ store fronts have been closed for selling infringing products and permanently banned from the Taobao and Tmall platforms and that more than 160,000 infringing product listings have been removed.

Despite such declarations, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) last summer wrote a letter to Alibaba’s executive chairman, Jack Ma, requesting his cooperation in developing new, transparent and easy-to-use takedown procedures.

Then president and CEO Juanita Duggan said, “After years of trying to work with Alibaba, we got nowhere. Every signal we received was that they were unwilling or unable to make reforms.”

Even the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) warned the company that it needed to ramp up its anti-counterfeit efforts and cooperate with the apparel and footwear industry to address ongoing piracy complaints, or risk being blacklisted.

Alibaba’s latest move indicates it took those reprimands to heart.

Now, as an official member of the IACC, Alibaba will have access to a global network of more than 250 brands and other IP experts working to develop and implement collaborative solutions to online counterfeiting and piracy. Alibaba will also be able to learn from and contribute to constructive discussions through IACC’s Member Engagement Groups on growing counterfeiting trends and IP best practices with other committed industry members.

“Having Alibaba as a member will help enrich the ongoing dialogue among IACC members and enable us to come up with better ways to tackle counterfeiting worldwide,” Barchiesi said.

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