SHENZHEN: Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is taking legal action against two vendors who it claims sold counterfeit Swarovski watches on its Taobao online marketplace.

This is the first time Alibaba, or any e-commerce site in China, has sued its online merchants and comes less than two weeks after the US authorities returned Taobao to its blacklist of "notorious marketplaces", Reuters reported.

Luxury brands have frequently accused Alibaba of turning a blind eye to the sale of fake goods on its websites – despite the company's protestations – and its latest move is likely to be seen as a way of shoring up its reputation.

Alibaba said it provided information to the Shenzhen Luohu District Police, who then raided one of the unnamed watch sellers last August and confiscated more than 125 fake Swarovski watches valued at around two million yuan. A second counterfeit vendor was also identified during the police action.

"We want to mete out to counterfeiters the punishment they deserve in order to protect brand owners," said Zheng Junfang, Alibaba’s Chief Platform Governance Officer, in a statement.

"We will bring the full force of the law to bear on these counterfeiters so as to deter others from engaging in this crime wherever they are," she added.

The company has been taking other steps to deal with its fake goods problem, including the use of big data and analytics to identify counterfeiters, according to Matthew Bassiur, Alibaba's New York-based Head of Global Intellectual Property Enforcement.

Speaking to the Financial Times, he said: "Big data analytics enhance our ability to identify and pursue counterfeiters, and make it increasingly difficult for these illicit sellers to hide in the shadows."

Data sourced from Reuters, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff