AACA Launches Advisory Committee to Strengthen SME Brand Protection

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AACA Launches Advisory Committee to Strengthen SME Brand Protection



The Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance has launched an industry-led intellectual property advisory committee dedicated to small and medium-size businesses.

The committee – which comprises SMEs from diverse industries and countries, including the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Germany and Spain – will bring a stronger SME perspective to AACA processes.

“We established the SME Advisory Committee to provide a forum for discussing the unique issues that SMEs face in IP enforcement,” said Matthew Bassiur, head of Global IP Enforcement at Alibaba Group. “We are proud to be the first e-commerce platform to create an IP advisory committee comprised solely of SMEs. Their insights are invaluable, and will further enable Alibaba to continue its efforts in advancing industry best practices.”

Initial feedback on the establishment of the SME Advisory Committee has been positive.

“Small businesses are an integral part of the global economy and their intellectual property rights must be protected at all costs. Alibaba’s new SME Advisory Committee is another positive step forward in providing a venue for open dialogue and advancing meaningful action,” said Steve K. Francis, director of the National IPR Coordination Center.

On Thursday, SAC hosted its inaugural meeting through video conference, with 17 SMEs from the U.S. and Europe joining to discuss organizational structure, upcoming initiatives and ways to collaborate within AACA to tackle industry-specific issues. SAC members will convene twice a year through in-person meetings once travel is safely resumed, with working groups and virtual meetings occurring between the spring and autumn plenary sessions. This ongoing engagement will afford SAC members the ability to exchange best practices on IPR protection and explore areas of collaboration with Alibaba and the AACA, including offline investigations, proactive efforts and notice-and-takedown practices.

“As a business that develops market-leading intellectual property in our field, Alibaba’s commitment to help us protect the significant investments we make is an important dynamic in the relationship between our two businesses,” said Simon Boyd, international sales director of CyDen, a Swansea, South Wales-based hair products company that sells through Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace. “We look forward to working closely with Alibaba as part of this committee and seeing this initiative realize continued success.”

Besides addressing SME-specific issues, SAC will also explore opportunities for collaboration and best-practice sharing with respective industry working groups within the broader AACA. SAC members represent 10 different industries: accessories, alcohol & tobacco, apparel, home, industrial products, personal care, pharmaceuticals, publishing, smart devices and toys. The AACA’s industry working groups cooperate closely with each other and with Alibaba through regular engagement and dialogue to enhance IPR protection efforts within their sectors. The AACA will also set up a parallel committee for SMEs based in China.

The launch of SAC is the latest initiative by Alibaba Group to enhance the IPR protection of SMEs. The company’s intellectual property protection platform features a dedicated support center for SMEs with helpful resources such as an easy-to-use online form for takedown requests.

In addition, Alibaba has partnered with industry associations, government bodies and academia to implement programs and host events for SMEs to share experiences and gain valuable information and insight into IPR protection. In 2019, Alibaba organized and co-hosted SME Summits in London, Madrid and Rome. Alibaba also continued to work with the International AntiCountefeiting Coalition to offer Good Faith program privileges through the IACC MarketSafe program to SMEs at no cost. To date, this successful program has led to the takedown of hundreds of thousands of infringing listings and permanent banning of more than 15,000 bad sellers, according to the IACC.

“SMEs too often lack the necessary resources to adequately protect their intellectual property. Congratulations to Alibaba for creating the SME Advisory Committee, and providing them with a much-needed voice. This is yet another example of Alibaba’s commitment and industry-leading approach in building a trusted online marketplace,” said Bob Barchiesi, president of the IACC.

Launched nearly four years ago, the AACA brings together rights holders and other IP stakeholders to share industry and technical expertise to fight IP infringement. The membership has grown to more than 180 rights holders, representing nearly 600 brands from around the world – up from 30 rights holders at its launch in January 2017. Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Fossil, Siemens, Dyson, Kohler and Coach were among the latest brands to join the alliance last year.

Government entities and trade associations are already expressing support for the AACA’s latest SME initiative. 

“We applaud Alibaba on the creation of this very important committee. SMEs are a backbone of both the economy and innovation. They are important job creators, and keeping their voices at the forefront of IP protection is crucial,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.

“In forming this advisory committee, Alibaba is further demonstrating that it understands and appreciates the needs of SMEs. Small and medium-size businesses deserve to be heard on IP protection and Alibaba is leading the way,” said José Antonio Moreno Campos, the director general of ANDEMA.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are not only vital to Italian food and agriculture industries, but also to the Italian economy as a whole. Alibaba’s SME Advisory Committee will support the IP needs of SMEs to help them position themselves in the market to compete and succeed. We strongly endorse Alibaba’s efforts to empower SMEs as well as their leadership in IP protection,” said Stefano Vaccari, head of anti-fraud of ICQRF, Italian Ministry of Agriculture, department of central inspection and fraud repression.

“Alibaba has displayed significantly notable progress through the years and is now, without question, a leader in IPR protection amongst the marketplaces,” said Claudio Bergonzi, director general of Instituto di Centromarca per la Lotta Alla Contraffazione (“INDICAM”).

Read other new endorsements of SAC as well as all the past testimonials about AACA here.

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