The Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance said Thursday that the criminal investigations led by its member brands and Alibaba in 2018 resulted in the arrest of 1,277 suspects and the shutdown of 524 manufacturing and distribution locations, which yielded counterfeit product seizures that totaled $536.2 million (RMB 3.6 billion).
“Over the past two years, we have used our technology and data to strengthen the fight against counterfeits. The AACA is now the benchmark and model for brand protection in China and around the world,” said Alibaba Senior Vice President Michael Yao, who heads the company’s intellectual-property-protection efforts with brands. “We are all part of the solution and collaboration among industry leaders is the only way to effectively combat this problem.”
Launched in January 2017, the 30 founding members of the organization have since grown to 132 brand owners in 12 industry categories, including globally recognized names such as Louis Vuitton, Honda, Samsung and Mars. Seventy percent of members are based outside of China. Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Fossil, Siemens, Dyson, Kohler, and Coach are among the brand owners to join in 2019.
The meeting in Shanghai drew attendance from more than 300 people from 16 countries and regions, most of whom represented AACA brands as well as experts in law enforcement and academia. At the event, Alibaba also noted that 97% of all takedown requests were processed in 24 hours during business days for AACA members as a result of extensive cooperation within the group.
“The AACA was created two years ago to solve the pain points of the IP protection industry. We are very grateful for the collaboration in this journey with all the stakeholders such as brand owners, law enforcement, and industry experts,” Chief Platform Governance Officer Jessie Zheng said. “Alibaba will continue to invest in brand protection and work alongside our partners to innovate and create a better future.”
“Michael Kors is pleased to have joined the AACA during 2019. We look forward to working together with Alibaba to enforce our intellectual property rights and pursue infringers in both online and offline channels,” said Krista McDonough, the company’s senior vice president and General counsel.
Alibaba and the AACA brands use their industry expertise with the latest anti-counterfeiting technology to protect intellectual property on Alibaba’s platforms through key initiatives including proactive monitoring, product authentication, offline enforcement, civil litigation, employee training, law enforcement exchanges, policy study, prevention of counter-notice abuses, and the Lazada IP Protection program.
AACA members are divided into 12 industry working groups to allow for better information-sharing within their sectors. There’s also an AACA advisory board through which members provide feedback in areas such as IPR enforcement-related strategies, policies and procedures, as well as new industry trends and platform practices in e-commerce.
“The close partnership with Alibaba both on commerce and IP protection has enabled Danish companies to thrive in the Alibaba ecosystem,” said Jesper Herold Halle, commercial consul at the Royal Danish Consulate General in Shanghai.
In 2017, Denmark signed a memorandum of understanding with Alibaba and opened a country pavilion on Tmall Global, Alibaba’s dedicated cross-border e-commerce platform. At last year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, sales of Danish products ranked seventh on Tmall Global. Halle said that the Royal Danish Consulate General in Shanghai has worked closely with Alibaba over the past two years to help Danish brands as well as small businesses to protect their IP. Prominent Danish companies including Pandora, Lego and Bestseller have also joined the AACA to deepen their partnership with Alibaba.
Sam Zhou, general manager of global brand protection at P&G Greater China, called AACA a “truly global collaboration.” “We want to make sure the best practices that we are making here in China will be replicable in the rest of the world,” Zhou said, adding that Alibaba set “a very high bar” for all of the world’s e-commerce platforms.
In the coming year, Alibaba’s Yao said that the AACA would work to increase its membership while stepping up its engagement with current members to boost levels of participation in AACA initiatives. Similarly, Alibaba will partner with members to look for new solutions to protect their IP. There will also be additional AACA events overseas to ramp up member engagement and outreach.
Additional testimonials from brands:
“Since we joined AACA, we have been gladly seeing continuous improvement in anti-counterfeiting policy throughout Alibaba platforms. We have been working closely with Alibaba IP protection team and with support from Alibaba in technical and other aspects, efficiency as well as effect of our IP protection including anti-counterfeiting action are steadily enhanced,” said Måns Sjöstrand, head of intellectual property and brand protection at Daniel Wellington.
“In the past it was difficult to find the source of counterfeiting networks. After joining AACA, we have worked closely with Alibaba and achieved great results on not just online initiatives but also offline investigations. AACA offers amazing programs to proactively help brand owners, and it is a one-stop solution for IP protection,” said Miller Wang, brand protection director and legal counsel at MCM APAC.
“AACA is a very good channel for brand owners to have closer cooperation and better communication with Alibaba, which greatly increases the efficiency of brand protection work,” Maria Elms, vice president of Pandora, said.