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Alibaba, Partners Notched Strong IPR Protection Gains in 2020

Alibaba and its partners stepped up intellectual property rights protection in 2020, making strong gains against bad actors and suspected infringing listings.

In the midst of battling the global Covid-19 pandemic, Alibaba enhanced IPR protection, tapping new technology and strengthening measures in place and ties with rights-holders and consumers to notch an across-the-board improvement in platform governance numbers, according to the group’s annual report on IPR protection released Friday.

According to the annual report, Alibaba’s IPR protection measures resulted in:

  • 96% of suspected IPR infringing listings proactively detected and immediately removed before a sale could be made.
  • The number of suspected IPR infringing listings reported by consumers fell 33% year-on-year.
  • The number of rights-holder accounts on Alibaba’s Intellectual Property Protection Platform climbed 40% from a year earlier.
  • 98% of intellectual property infringement complaints were handled within 24 hours, up from 96% in 2019.

New ­and Expanded IPR-Protection Technology

During the year, Alibaba – which is dedicated to enhancing IPR protection via application of artificial intelligence and information technologies – increased its number of patents tied to its core anti-counterfeiting technology to 262 from 180.

The group worked with brands to designate over 20,000 authorized offline stores in its Amap mapping service. And Alibaba also enlisted 30,000 consumer volunteers in its anti-counterfeiting efforts across 30 provinces of China through the enablement of its Consumer Reporting System.

Apart from the numbers, Alibaba also rolled out “ZaoMang,” a powerful trademark clearance AI tool, which helps rights holders efficiently identify potential trademarks for their use, while also using advanced governance techniques to avoid potentiallybad-faith applications.

ZaoMang was several years in the making. The tool minimizes the cost of investing time and resources in pursuing or developing trade names or branding that turns out to be covered by existing trademark registrations or are in the process of being registered.

ZaoMang offers especially small and medium-sized enterprises more ease of use and convenience in identifying and selecting brand names and registering them as trademarks. Alibaba has also offered ZaoMang services to numerous licensed trademark-filing agencies, tor educe their costs and make the process more efficient for SMEs.

ZaoMang’s powerful AI employs data about trademark registrations and usage from multiple sources, including China’s national trademark database, the Standards for Trademark Review and Adjudication, as well as perceptions from millions of Tmall and Taobao consumers over the past five years.

As an aside, ZaoMang also essentially named itself, using its own AI to generate a list of names for the service and eventual trademark registration.

And for the first time ever, Alibaba’s blockchain-based evidence-preservation technology in 2020 resulted in evidence recognition and admissibility in court for IPR-infringement litigation.

Collaboration with Rights Holders and Brands on the Rise

During the year, collaboration with rights holders and brands picked up. Membership of the Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance grew to 193 rights holders from around the world, covering over 700 brands, up from 170 rights holders and 500 brands a year earlier. AACA members hail from 19 countries and regions around the world, with 34% European, 29% from North America, 24% Chinese and 13% from elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.

Even during the pandemic, AACA members jointly combated counterfeit products through civil litigations, participation at industry conferences, public statements and other actions highlighting their positions and determination to tackle IPR issues.

With an eye toward making IPR protection equally accessible to large and small rights holders, Alibaba last year launched an SME Support Center. The Center aims to make IPR protection more accessible and user-friendly for SMEs. One initiative was to reduce thecomplexity of IPR enforcement by cutting the number of codes for demonstrating trademark infringement to three from 11.

Alibaba also established an SME Advisory Committee in 2020 to offer a forum where SMEs can air the unique issues they face in IPR protection and enforcement. The committee collaborates with and exchanges IPR best practices with multinational enterprises through the AACA.

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