Alibaba recruits Louis Vuitton and others for new alliance
The Louis Vuitton and Swarovski luxury partnerships are particularly interesting given Alibaba's history of being a hotbed marketplace where counterfeit goods were frequently traded.
Alibaba has been actively seeking recognition for cracking down on its counterfeit trade. It became a member of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) last April and then had that membership suspended in May 2016. Luxury brands including Gucci and Michael Kors actively protested Alibaba's admission to the IACC given its reputation and lack of monitoring of its merchants.
Last year Taobao, Alibaba's version of an eBay style marketplace, was listed on the US Trade Representative's Office "Notorious Markets" list for the frequency of fake goods circulating through its merchants. Investigations led to estimates that up to 90% of the footwear sold on Taobao were counterfeit goods.
As Alibaba tries again to gain legitimacy, its Big Data Anticounterfeiting Alliance is designed to “foster industry collaboration and promote the use of big data and technology in the global fight against counterfeits.”
The alliance will create a place where Alibaba will give advanced technical support to help find infringing listings. Members will be able to share their intellectual property authentication practices in turn to crack down on fake deals.
The company said this new alliance “aims to pool resources and increase collaboration to promote a safe and healthy global e-commerce ecosystem where brands are protected from IP pirates.”
Arguably Alibaba's anticounterfeit efforts are weak. Last year it proudly reported it shut down 675 counterfeit operations and seized $208 million in fake goods. This is small scale compared to the $15.6 billion dollars in sales it reported last year.
“The most powerful weapon against counterfeiting today is data and analytics, and the only way we can win this war is to unite,” said Jessie Zheng, Chief Platform Governance Officer of the Alibaba Group.
This alliance comes just a week after founder and executive chairman Jack Ma reportedly met with US President-elect Donald Trump, who also met with Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH.
The Big Data Anticounterfeiting Alliance has garnered support from Chinese law enforcement and government officials suggesting it has a fighting chance of growth. Only time will tell whether Alibaba's efforts will be strong enough to actually take a real stand against the sale of counterfeit goods.
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