Alibaba Enlists Louis Vuitton & Others to Help It Combat Fake Goods

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. continues to push back against allegations that its platforms are a haven for the proliferation of counterfeit goods.

The Chinese e-commerce giant said Monday that it has partnered with several international brands, including Louis Vuitton, Samsung and Mars, to form the Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance. The goal of the new 20-member alliance, according to Alibaba, is to keep the e-commerce company’s platforms free of pirated goods.

The most powerful weapon against counterfeiting today is data and analytics, and the only way we can win this war is to unite,” Alibaba’s chief platform officer Jessie Zheng said in the statement Monday regarding the company’s latest moves. “With our robust data capabilities, we are confident the alliance will accelerate the digital transformation in our global fight against counterfeits.”

The move comes just one month after Alibaba was relisted on the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative’s (USTR) “Notorious Markets” — the U.S. government’s blacklist for organizations that make and market fake goods — only four years after having its name removed.

Over the years, U.S. organizations — notably the American Apparel and Footwear Association— have accused Alibaba of not taking enough steps to combat the sale of fakes on its Taobao platform. The AAFA has sent letters to the USTR urging it to relist the company to its “Notorious Markets” lineup. Meanwhile, French luxury conglomerate Kering, holding firm for Gucci, Balenciaga and other brands, sued the Chinese e-commerce firm two times in 2015 for allegedly selling fakes.

Alibaba has consistently stood by its efforts to identify and prevent the sale of pirated merchandise on its sites and had been forging ahead with the plans of its executive chairman Jack Ma to rebrand China as a consumption-based economy.

The USTR’s decision to relist the organization was largely viewed as a blow to those efforts.

Alibaba now says its new anti-counterfeiting alliance will increase cooperation and transparency among all its stakeholders, while also providing brands and rights holders with a more formal channel for information sharing. The company said its anti-counterfeiting technologies scan as many as 10 million product listings a day, and in the 12 months ending last August, it had removed more than 380 million product listings and closed down 180,000 third-party seller stores. But its new alliance will allow members to share their own anti-counterfeiting tactics, which should bolster those efforts.

Alibaba said the Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance would also disclose its progress and results on a regular basis.

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