Alibaba Group has announced a new alliance with international brands including Louis Vuitton, Samsung and Mars that will leverage big data and the latest in anti-counterfeiting technology to continue the global fight against fakes.
The Alibaba Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance, which has about 20 members, will bring together industry and technical know-how as a key strategy for keeping the e-commerce company’s platforms free of pirated goods, the company said in a release on Monday.
“The most powerful weapon against counterfeiting today is data and analytics, and the only way we can win this war is to unite,” Alibaba’s chief platform officer, Jessie Zheng, said in the statement. “With our robust data capabilities, we are confident the alliance will accelerate the digital transformation in our global fight against counterfeits.”
Last month, Alibaba showcased some of those capabilities when it disclosed that its use of algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning, coupled with data, helped to shutter 417 production rackets, arrested 332 suspects and seized fake goods valued at RMB 1.43 billion ($207.2 million) in a joint operation with Chinese law enforcement between April and July last year. Codenamed “Operation Cloud Sword,” the hunt for counterfeiters on the internet resulted not only in the shutdown of their online stores but in a crackdown in their offline operations as well.
“This alliance will allow us to put to use some of the most powerful technologies available in the battle against counterfeit goods,” said Sam Shen, a Shanghai-based director at direct-selling company Amway. Amway is also a member of the alliance. “Already Alibaba has delivered significant results in tracking down IP violators, and we look forward to working with them and the rest of the members to continue that effort.”
Alibaba’s anti-counterfeiting technologies scan as many as 10 million product listings a day, the company said. In the 12 months ending last August, the company had removed more than 380 million product listings and closed down 180,000 third-party seller stores. All the brands that sell on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms benefit from these technologies in the fight against fakes, the company said. However, the Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance was created to increase cooperation and transparency among all stakeholders, while also providing brands and rights holders with a more formal channel for information sharing. As brands increase the amount of information they share with Alibaba, the company said it is better able to protect their intellectual property.
The members will also distribute among the alliance their own anti-counterfeiting expertise and data in order to bolster the efforts of the entire group. Alibaba said that it would feed the information to brands and, ultimately, law enforcement to further support investigations and prosecutions offline. Such cooperation resulted in the closing of about 675 counterfeit operations in the year ending last August, the company said.
“We look forward to continuing to working with Alibaba and others to break the supply chain of counterfeit goods, and create an environment where counterfeiters can no longer hide,” said Scott Thompson, general counsel of Marketing Properties at Mars Inc.
The collaboration among stakeholders will give brands the opportunity to review and engage Alibaba about its platform governance rules. The company said it would then incorporate that feedback in order to improve its existing anti-counterfeiting technologies. The Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance as a whole will also disclose its progress and results on a regular basis.
The announcement on Monday was the latest in a series of initiatives from Alibaba in its efforts to protect the intellectual property of the brands selling on its platforms. In addition to Operation Cloud Sword, Alibaba took a new step forward earlier this month when it sued two merchants in Shenzhen for selling fake Swarovski watches on Taobao. Information provided by Alibaba prompted the seizure of 125 fake Swarovski watches and two counterfeit Swarovski official seals, with an estimated total value of RMB 200 million ($28.7 million).