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Uniqlo Parent Strengthens Brand Protection on Mercari Marketplace

The subject of brand control, intellectual property, counterfeits and fakes has been a driving determinant in whether retailers opt to sell on third-party marketplaces. Understanding what’s at stake, the parent company of Uniqlo, Theory and J Brand wants to protect its reputation on one of the biggest marketplaces in Japan and the U.S.

Fast Retailing Co. and Mercari have struck a deal aimed at establishing a safer and more secure environment for the buying and selling of Fast Retailing Group brand products on the latter’s digital marketplace.

The two parties concluded what they called a “Memorandum on Marketplace Co-creation” to create a place where “all users can obtain the products they want, any place and any time.” The deal seems to prioritize transparency between both the businesses themselves and their customers.

In a statement, the companies indicate that they will take specific steps to establish this kind of environment and avoid shopper confusion. Both companies will share product and launch information with each other before and at the time when they release special new products. Additionally, they will issue reminders about new products to customers through either Fast Retailing’s websites and outlets or on Mercari’s app and official blog.

The companies are also taking measures to protect against products that infringe on Fast Retailing’s intellectual property. Following consultation with Fast Retailing, Mercari will take steps to remove listings that violate its own terms of service.

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Giving Fast Retailing’s popularity on Mercari’s app, the marketplace firm has every reason to ensure the clothing giant receives reasonable brand protections.

Fast Retailing says that its brand products are widely traded on the Mercari marketplace app, with Uniqlo products the most listed and purchased brand on the entire app for the past three years.

Going forward, Fast Retailing alluded to similar relationships in the future, saying it will cooperate with other marketplace providers to enhance the shopping experience for customers.

Recent U.S. legislation shows that the concerns shared by Fast Retailing and other retailers about online marketplaces are shared by government officials.

Earlier this week, U.S. Senators introduced legislation to combat the online sale of stolen, counterfeit and dangerous consumer products by ensuring transparency of high-volume third-party sellers in online retail marketplaces.

The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act would direct online retail marketplaces that include third-party sellers of consumer products to authenticate the identity of “high-volume third-party sellers,” which will help deter the online sale of counterfeit goods by anonymous sellers and prevent organized retail crime rings from stealing items from stores to resell those items in bulk online.

If enacted, the bill would also ensure that consumers can see basic identification and contact information for high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products on online marketplaces.

Given that Mercari operates a marketplace in the U.S., the bill would incentivize the company to further fight counterfeiting and the sale of stolen goods, and could give Fast Retailing peace of mind knowing that its products would be conveyed in the most transparent, authentic ways possible.

As Mercari shores up its Fast Retailing partnership, the marketplace has been expanding its offerings in new territories. In August, Mercari partnered with Taiwan-based marketplace Shopee. With this partnership, users in Taiwan will be able to view and buy some items listed on Mercari through Shopee.

Mercari recently established links with another major retail name, Alibaba, opening cross-border sales in China for the first time via the peer-to-peer Taobao and Xianyu marketplaces. Xianyu began as a service to buy and sell secondhand goods within Taobao, but now operates as a standalone marketplace app with more than 90 million monthly active users, making it the largest marketplace app in China.

Both the Shopee and Taobao/Xianyu partnerships are powered by cross-border e-commerce support service Buyee. When a transaction takes place, Buyee purchases Mercari products for foreign users in proxy, and has them sent to its own domestic warehouse where they are examined and repackaged for international shipping.