Ashley Gomez runs Et Al Beauty, a small family-owned business in Henderson, Nevada. Her mother, Linda Gomez, founder and CEO of the brand, invented its flagship product Fullips, a lip plumper that soon became a top-seller. But excitement over the product’s initial success quickly turned to dismay that their invention had been knocked off.
“Like many other SMEs, we didn’t have the resources or knowledge to enforce the IP my mom worked so hard to obtain; we simply weren’t prepared for this unforeseen fight,” said Ashley, a co-owner of the cosmetics brand. “While other platforms are seemingly turning a blind eye to this pervasive problem, Alibaba is moving the industry forward and bringing SMEs with it by giving small companies like ours a voice.”
Et Al Beauty is one of the international 20 SMEs that joined the SME Advisory Committee (SAC), established by Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance (AACA) a year ago.
For many international small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that often lack dedicated resources on IP protection compared to their larger peers, protecting their intellectual property (IP) rights while trying to grow in a competitive market like China requires expertise and collaboration with global platforms like Alibaba Group. The committee – which comprises SMEs from countries including the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Germany and Spain – was created by AACA to bring SMEs’ perspective to bear in IP enforcement and address their unique needs.
The inaugural committee members represent diverse sectors in the economy, spanning 10 different industry working groups (IWGs), including accessories, alcohol & tobacco, apparel, home, industrial products, personal care, pharmaceuticals, publishing, smart devices, and toys.
“This dedicated forum for discussing the unique issues that SMEs face in IP enforcement has proven a success,” said Matthew Bassiur, Vice President and Head of Global IP Enforcement at Alibaba. “We are incredibly grateful to our SME Advisory Committee members for being a part of this industry-leading initiative. Their important contributions have further enabled Alibaba to continue its efforts in advancing IP protection best practices.”
In its first year, SAC hosted quarterly meetings as well as one-on-one conversations to bring together its members and facilitate discussions on the important issues that SMEs face across different industries. During these sessions, committee members exchanged ideas and discussed initiatives that would help address specific IP enforcement challenges for SMEs. For example, the committee recommended that AACA dedicates more resources to helping small businesses better understand the tactics of IP rights protection in China, as well as creating a campaign to educate consumers on the importance of buying authentic goods.
“SMEs make up a large share of global economic activity. But they make up a very small share of brand protection efforts. There are few resources tailored to the specific needs of SMEs,” said William Mansfield, Director of Intellectual Property of South Bend-Indiana-based home and car care brand ABRO Industries, Inc.
Alibaba has made a serious commitment to create marketplaces safe for SMEs because they recognize the central role they play in global economic growth
Based on the feedback from SAC, Alibaba and AACA then offered workshops throughout the year to educate small businesses on their IP enforcement strategy. More than 100 participants attended the SME Design Rights Workshop in June, which was co-hosted by AACA and the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC). The workshop featured presentations by officials, scholars and practitioners from the European Union IP Office, IACC and Michigan State University. The presentations and discussions covered a wide range of useful strategies and practical advice for SMEs on IP enforcement in the U.S., Europe and China.
“Alibaba not only provides SMEs with a seat at the table on such important matters but also provides them with the tools necessary to succeed in enforcing their IP rights across its platform,” said Bob Barchiesi, President of the IACC. “The company continues to demonstrate true leadership in assisting SMEs in their IPR protection efforts.”
Launched nearly five 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 200 rights holders, representing more than 700 brands from around the world, up from just 30 rights holders at its launch in January 2017. The focus on SMEs was the latest effort by AACA to bring together stakeholders from private and public sectors to advance IP protection best practices.
Last year, the National IP Rights Coordination Center officially recognized Alibaba’s work during its 2020 Private Sector Award Ceremony for the company’s continued efforts in protecting American consumers and businesses.
“On this one-year anniversary of Alibaba’s SME Advisory Committee, we wish them continued success in advancing meaningful action in IPR protection for this integral part of the global economy,” said Steve K. Francis, Acting Executive Associate Director, Homeland Security Investigations.
Read other new endorsements of SAC as well as all the past testimonials about AACA here, or view the full transcripts from our interviews with ABRO Industries, Inc.’s William Mansfield and Ashley Gomez of Et Al Beauty.
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