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Alibaba moves on counterfeiting

News, 10 August 2015

HANZHOU: Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, which is facing legal action over allegations that it has turned a blind eye to the sale of fake luxury goods on its websites, is ramping up the protection it offers foreign brands.

It has launched an English-language version of TaoProtect, its online system for reporting intellectual property (IP) infringements that is used on its Taobao and Tmall ecommerce marketplaces, Inside Retail Asia reported.

The move will make it easier for foreign brands to report any suspicions about counterfeit goods being sold on the sites, which have a combined total of 10m active sellers.

"Because the success and integrity of our marketplaces depend on consumer trust, we have comprehensive policies and practices in place to fight IP infringement," said Xinghao Wang, Alibaba's senior intellectual property protection manager.

He explained that such an online alerting system would improve Alibaba's ability to identify suspicious listings that might otherwise get missed by the company's internal countermeasures.

Although Alibaba strenuously denies that it has allowed the sale of knock-off goods on its sites, it faces having to go to a federal court in New York to defend itself against just such an allegation from Kering, the French luxury goods group.

Further pressure has come from the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which last month demanded that Alibaba crack down on counterfeits, The Economist reported.

Alibaba's Wang said the English-language version of TaoProtect will make the system more accessible to Western brands, although he cautioned that any lodging of a complaint would have to be investigated first to ensure other merchants were not unfairly penalised.

In a separate development, Alibaba announced that it has signed exclusive partnership agreements with more than 20 apparel brands, including Zara and Timberland, to sell their goods on Tmall.

It added that it also would deepen its collaboration with more than 160 brands, including Adidas and Gap, as it seeks to win over big global players.

Data sourced from Inside Retail Asia, The Economist, Reuters; additional content by Warc staff