Alibaba Makes Key Enhancements to Intellectual Property Protection Platform

Alibaba on Thursday unveiled several significant enhancements to its Intellectual Property Protection (IPP) Platform, using advanced data models to speed the handling of takedown requests from brands and rights holders and offering a more-streamlined experience to users globally.

Addressing 180 brand representatives gathered in Beijing for Alibaba’s Brand Rights Holders Day, the operator of the world’s largest online marketplace said that in the first month since the soft launch of the upgraded IPP Platform, nearly all IP-related takedown requests received from brands and rights holders were handled within 24 hours, as new data-modeling allowed for more-effective and faster processing of claims. Of those, 83 percent resulted in takedowns. The remaining 17 percent were declined mainly for insufficient evidence to prove infringement or a mismatch between the complained listing and IP documents filed.

Alibaba also said it has improved the overall IPP Platform user experience, creating a single website for rights holders and brands to register and file takedown requests across all of Alibaba’s marketplaces. Along with the IPP Platform enhancements, Alibaba is also rolling out more-comprehensive policies and enforcement programs to protect original designs, along with an expanded brand-protection program that offers multilingual trademark recognition. And a dedicated team of IPR professionals is in place to further reduce response time for inbound inquiries, to reach out to new IPP Platform users and to assist with more-complicated IPR cases.

The platform upgrades are in line with other moves Alibaba has made to tighten up proactive detection of product listings that violate IPR. Since last year, Alibaba has cracked down on merchants who mislead consumers by using branded keywords they don’t have the rights to use in the titles of product listings. Alibaba is using advanced algorithms to identify, block and remove such listing and root out repeat offenders. Through the end of July, valid complaints about misuse of trademarked keywords has dropped 84 percent from a year earlier.

Alibaba also said it would make continuous improvements to the IPP Platform, weighing feedback from rights holders about their user experience via regular satisfaction surveys.

The Brand Rights Holders gathering in Beijing also offered Alibaba an opportunity to, with 180 brands, dig into ways to further improve online and offline IP protection and build trust.

“Brand trust is core to our mission,” said Jessie Zheng, Alibaba’s chief platform governance officer. “Our enhanced platform and express processing of listing takedowns within 24 hours, along with significant progress in other important initiatives all showcase the industry best practices Alibaba is creating for the benefit and trust of all our stakeholders.”

Attendees were largely positive about the gathering.

“As a long-standing partner of Alibaba’s, I’m impressed with the technology upgrades to the platform we saw today, and appreciate Alibaba’s openness about its processes and willingness to seek our input on how to better work together. As a brand, I learned a lot, which instills our continued trust in Alibaba to protect our IP,” said Jessica Guo, senior legal manager at sporting goods company, Spalding.

And others pointed out the potential longterm benefits to customers, the e-commerce market and rights holders from continuous strides in IP protection.

“We have a very good relationship with Alibaba and a common goal: to raise awareness to the whole society about the damage fake products bring to the industry,” said William Feng, vice president of Asia Pacific for the Motion Picture Association. “We do see great opportunity for brands, rights holders and e-commerce to grow the entire market. We need everyone to come together to realize the importance of IP protection.”

Brand Rights Holders Day was an opportunity for Alibaba to detail other recent and significant progress it has made on the IP-protection front. Alibaba has used a combination of collaboration, technology and legal action to protect brand IP.

Alibaba noted it agreed with French luxury group Kering last week to cooperate in efforts to protect intellectual property and take joint enforcement actions online and offline against infringers.

In July, Alibaba met with IP-enforcement companies that work on behalf of rights holders to protect their IP at Vendors Day, sharing experiences, best practices and the way forward for collaboration in bringing down “bad actors” who abuse the notice and takedown processes on Alibaba’s platforms.

“The willingness to cooperate, to talk directly with customers…and find real solutions to the problems we face, this is something hard to find in other marketplaces,” said Joan Porta, online brand protection manager at Red Points, who attended the event. “Having someone you can talk to, bring your problems to and get effective responses from, Alibaba is clearly in a top position among marketplaces.”

Alibaba also touted the Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance, formed with 30 international and Chinese brands to enhance communication and transparency between rights holders, e-commerce platforms and law enforcement. The alliance employs big data and other technologies to create, in effect, a 24-hour anti-counterfeiting network. AACA members include Louis Vuitton, Samsung, Amway and Mars. The group has so far met twice since the start of the year, when it was founded, and has a third meeting slated for September.

Growing out of a single, four-month cooperative investigation last year, Alibaba has partnered with governments of 13 Chinese provinces and municipalities to form the “Cloud Sword Alliance.” The alliance uses algorithms and machine learning from Alibaba’s technological ecosystem to not just locate illegal transactions, but track them upstream so that authorities can shut down the illegal production source.

And Alibaba also noted its recent victory in civil court against a seller of fake cat food on Taobao. The case was one of three that Alibaba pursued this year against IPR violators on its platforms. Alibaba has also sued two Taobao vendors for selling fake Swarovski watches and another for hawking fake Wuliangye-branded spirits.

Alibaba’s full release on the IPP Platform enhancements and its progress in IP protection is available here.