In recent times, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has been making a significant push to fight against online counterfeiters. According to the latest results released by Alibaba during its IPR Protection Summit in Seattle, the company seized counterfeit goods worth 4.3 billion RMB ($700 million) in 2017, up from $438 million worth of fake goods they captured the year before. The 2o17 efforts also resulted in 1,910 leads to law enforcement that led to the arrest of 1,606 suspects and the closure of 1,328 facilities.
In mid-2017, Alibaba debuted an Express Intellectual Property Protection program that lets brands and retailers report counterfeit goods. According to Alibaba, the joint initiative has incorporated rights holders’ efforts in dealing with the issue, and it has proved efficient to protect their rights. The latest statistics from Alibaba show 95 percent of takedown requests were processed within 24 hours last year, which is a 68 percent reduction in processing time compared to 2016.
Meanwhile, the number of notice and takedown requests submitted by rights holders declined 42 percent in 2017, even though the number of registered accounts on Alibaba’s IPP Platform rose 17 percent. This achievement, according to Alibaba, is a firm sign of their progress in taking control of counterfeiting sellers and policing the marketplace.
More Trust from Brands
For years Alibaba has faced problems with online counterfeiters attempting to sell on their platform. In January this year, the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative (USTR) once again listed its consumer-facing marketplace Taobao on its “Notorious Markets” blacklist. Alibaba sees it as an “uninformed” judgment that neglects a lot of great efforts and achievements that it has been making.
Just two weeks ago, the company reported that the number of members of their Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance, which was officially named Alibaba Anti-counterfeiting Association (AACA) and was only launched in January 2017, has tripled, with big-name luxury brands such as Valentino, Estee Lauder and Shiseido joining the alliance.
Technology is Key
According to Alibaba, by applying the latest technology such as Blockchain and big data analytics, they are now able to proactively detect and remove illicit listings on the platform before rights holders send the takedown requests. Last year, they proactively removed 27 times more listings than were processed as a result of requests from rights holders, with 97 percent of all proactive takedowns occurring before a single sale occurred.
“In addition to constructive collaboration, advances in technology will be crucial for effective online brand protection as pirates constantly upgrade the tech tools they use to make counterfeit goods,” said Fred Mostert, president of the Luxury Law Alliance and a visiting professor at King’s College Law School, London in an Alibaba press release.
“Platforms need to fight fire with fire, tech with tech. Alibaba has been spearheading initiatives such as Blockchain on the tech front and putting machine learning and AI to work in the fight.”