Alibaba Group’s intellectual property rights-protection efforts showed continued success last year, according to the e-commerce giant’s newly released report.
A combination of ever-improving technologies and close partnerships with brands and other external stakeholders helped to deliver strong results in the core areas of proactive monitoring and removal, rights-holder takedown requests and offline enforcement, the annual IPR report noted.
According to the report, key results of Alibaba’s increasingly effective IP-protection programs for 2019 include:
- 96% of proactively removed listings having been eliminated before a single sale took place.
- 96% of removal requests submitted through Alibaba’s online Intellectual Property Protection Platform (IPP Platform) were processed within 24 hours.
- There was a 20% year-on-year increase in the number of registered users on the IPP Platform.
- There was a 57% YoY decrease in the number of listings removed in response to consumer reports of suspected counterfeits, showing increased effectiveness of Alibaba’s IP-protection technology.
- There were 1,045 IP-related leads by Alibaba to law enforcement that resulted in the arrest of 4,125 criminal suspects and the closure of 2,029 facilities involved in the manufacturing and distribution of illicit goods. This represents a significant increase from the year before, and serves to further highlight Alibaba’s highly effective offline collaboration with right holders and law enforcement.
Notably, membership in the Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance (AACA), which brings rights holders and other IP stakeholders together to share industry and technical expertise in the fight against IP infringers, grew to 170 rights holders (representing more than 500 brands) from around the world by the end of 2019. This is up from 30 at its launch in January 2017. Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Fossil, Siemens, Dyson, Kohler and Coach are among the brand owners to join in 2019. Among these 170 rights holders, European representatives account for 31% of members, with rights holders from the Americas, China and the Asia Pacific region accounting for 30%, 25% and 14%, respectively.
In its annual IP protection report, Alibaba also attributed the results to a number of IP-protection initiatives put in place by the company:
- Streamlined Notice and Takedown: Alibaba’s IPP Platform, which allows brands to submit online requests to protect their IPR, continued to be the hub for rights holders to effectively track the complaint process and counter-notices submitted by merchants. Thanks to the streamlined progress and more user-friendly interface, the program’s membership grew 20% in 2019. In addition, Alibaba launched a dedicated support center on IPP to improve the user experience for overseas small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It has already served thousands of SMBs.
- Advanced Technology for Proactive Monitoring: In 2019, Alibaba introduced the IPR Protection Technology Brain, a proprietary and patented suite of technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and block chain, to enhance the proactive monitoring of potential infringing activities on its platforms. In December 2019, Alibaba also launched a channel for Chinese consumers to report physical stores that are suspected of engaging in counterfeiting, piracy or other types of infringement, such as retailers representing “copycat” versions of brands. Tapping into the advanced analytical capabilities of its IPR Protection Technology Brain, the platform can link these consumer reports and share them with related rights holders and law enforcement for further criminal or civil investigation.
- Continued Work with Law Enforcement: In 2019, the company continued to strengthen its offline investigation initiatives, engaging with 439 law enforcement teams from 31 provinces across China and providing 1,045 IP-related leads. This contributed to the arrest of 4,125 criminal suspects and the closure of 2,029 facilities involved in the manufacturing and distribution of illicit goods. The total value of these cases was estimated at RMB 8.4 billion (US$1.2 billion).
The strong results of Alibaba’s IPR initiatives won the acknowledgement of IPR stakeholders globally. In May 2019, the World Trademark Review named Alibaba Group the Asia Pacific Team of the Year for its work in IPR protection, making Alibaba the only Chinese company to have won the award to date. Matthew Bassiur, vice president and head of global intellectual-property enforcement at Alibaba Group, also won the Luxury Law Innovator in IP Rights and Technology award at the Luxury Law Summit in London in April last year.
Additional Third-Party Praise for Alibaba’s IP-Protection Work:
“Alibaba has grabbed the flag on IPR protection and is running with it. We greatly appreciate their close collaboration.” – Rick Helfenbein, President and CEO, American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)
“Alibaba over the past three years has gone from being criticized for its efforts in IP protection to being viewed as a leader and innovator in the field.” – Fred Mostert, President, Luxury Law Alliance
“Alibaba has so substantially enhanced their IPR protection program to the point that we, and many other stakeholders, are comfortable in referring to their IPR protection program as the gold standard within the e-commerce industry.” – Bob Barchiesi, President, International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
“We‚Ä¶recognize the Alibaba team for their highly cooperative and proactive approach to IPR enforcement. Alibaba has shown a real commitment to protecting rights holders of all sizes, to include SMEs.” – Jos√© Antonio Moreno – Director General, ANDEMA
“‚Ä¶ Alibaba’s anti-counterfeiting policies and programs are significantly more effective than any of their U.S. counterparts. They are working very closely with all complaining brand owners and are using cutting-edge technology to scan for and detect counterfeits. I find it shocking U.S. platforms are so far behind.” – Congressman Doug Collins, Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
“We greatly value the close collaboration that we enjoy with the China IP offices and our e-commerce partner Alibaba, with which we are co-hosting this event.” – Ros Lynch, Director, Copyright and IP Enforcement, UK Intellectual Property Office
“Alibaba’s notable partnership and expertise on the business development front is matched by their devotion and concerted efforts in IPR protection.” – Tim Pfeiffer, Senior Vice President, Entertainment One (parent company to Peppa Pig)
The report is available here in Chinese, with an international English version forthcoming.