Alibaba Steps Up Efforts To Combat Counterfeiting

Also Unveils Symbols Similar To QR Codes

AlibabaChina-based Alibaba Group has restructured its counterfeit procedures in the wake of escalating complaints about fake products available on the company’s shopping sites. The e-commerce firm is allowing global brands with high accuracy in flagging counterfeit items to enroll in a “good-faith takedown” program. Complaints about fake goods on Alibaba shopping platforms Tmall and Taobao will now be reviewed in one to three working days – compared to five-seven days previously. In addition, participating brands will receive a dedicated representative to address their complaints.

Alibaba has also recently unveiled authentication symbols similar to QR codes. The symbols can be made available to sellers at their request and are designed to entice luxury brands to the company’s platforms. A secure code can be generated for each individual item, which can subsequently be scanned in the Tmall and Taobao mobile apps to determine authenticity.

“Even though we’ve seen advances in the last couple of years there is certainly a lot of counterfeit activity on those sites,” Haydn Simpson of NetNames, a firm that tracks fakes on the Internet, told “Some of [our clients] would estimate up to 80% of [their] goods found on Taobao are counterfeit.”

Alibaba has received criticism and is facing legal action from multiple groups for not being proactive enough in removing fake items. Last month, Paris-based Kering SA, which owns luxury brands Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and others, filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court. According to the Wall Street Journal, the suit alleges that Alibaba and others “knowingly encourage, assist, and profit from the sale of counterfeits on their online platforms.”

In April, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) sent a letter to the United States Trade Representative that lamented the “rampant proliferation” of fake goods and brought up several complaints, including lack of clarity, long delays and weak penalties. “The slow pace,” AAFA President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan wrote in the letter, “has convinced us that Alibaba is either not capable of or interested in addressing this problem.”

Alibaba says it spends more than $16.1 million a year to combat the selling of counterfeit goods through its platforms.