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Top brands flocking to Alibaba's global anti-counterfeiting alliance

By Zhou Wenting and He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-11 07:31

Membership of Alibaba's anti-counterfeiting coalition has more than quadrupled since its establishment in early 2017, showing growing confidence in collaborative efforts to combat counterfeiting, said a senior executive of the Chinese e-commerce and online services provider.

The intellectual property rights protection body, named the Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance, has seen its membership rise to 132, including top luxury brands such as Richemont, Burberry and Louis Vuitton, up from 30 at the alliance's establishment, Matthew Bassiur, vice-president and head of global IP enforcement at Alibaba Group, told China Daily in an exclusive interview on April 2.

The latest additions, which include Dyson, Li-Ning and Coach, have resulted in the alliance featuring brands from 16 countries and regions. More than 60 percent of its members are foreign companies, according to the group.

Bassiur was honored the Luxury Innovator in IP Rights and Technology Award by the London-based Luxury Law Alliance in the United Kingdom on April 2 for his extraordinary leadership in IPR protection, and in recognition of the positive advancements made by Alibaba on the international stage.

Frederick Mostert, president of the Luxury Law Alliance, said: "Bassiur and his team have significantly improved Alibaba's standing within the international community. In just three years, Alibaba has gone from being criticized for its efforts in IP rights protection to being viewed as a leader and innovator in the field."

Alibaba said it created the alliance based on its mission to build a healthy environment for IP protection.

AACA members collaborate to provide proactive online monitoring and protection, product test-buy programs, offline investigations and enforcement, industry-law enforcement workshops, litigation and public awareness campaigns.

"One of Alibaba's core strengths is leveraging core technologies, including artificial intelligence and algorithms, to help protect IPR holders," Bassiur said.

"Many of the algorithms are learning algorithms so that the more the brand holders are contributing to the enforcement of their own trademarks, the better the algorithms will understand what might be infringing their rights."

The group uses technologies and algorithms to spot and take down infringing items before they even get on platforms, and it sends out alerts for products with a strikingly high proportion of customer complaints and looks into its manufacturing, distribution and supply chain. The group said that 96 percent of the products investigated were removed before there was a single sale.

Last year, Alibaba referred more than 1,600 leads to law enforcement authorities, which helped in the arrest of more than 1,900 suspects and involved 7.9 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) in estimated product value, the group said.

In May, Alibaba and Louis Vuitton conducted an offline investigation that resulted in the seizure of knockoffs worth approximately 100 million yuan, it said.

Such statistics show that the brands are benefiting from the technologies, Bassiur said.

Alibaba has been working with dozens of international entities, including government agencies and industrial associations, as another core strength, he added.

Jesper Herold Halle, commercial consul at the Danish Consulate General in Shanghai, said: "Normally in other countries when we work with the platforms, we experience a reactive form of dealing with counterfeit issues, whereas what we experience here, through our cooperation with Alibaba, is a very proactive way dealing with counterfeits."

Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, said: "Alibaba has grabbed the flag on IPR protection and is running with it. We greatly appreciate their close collaboration."

Contact the writers at zhouwenting@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 04/11/2019 page17)

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