Alibaba Group President Michael Evans issued the following statement after the Office of the United States Trade Representative release of the 2017 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets:
Alibaba is doing more to protect brands and rights holders than any e-commerce company in the world, and we not only addressed, but went above and beyond, each specific concern raised by the USTR last year.
Over the past year, we have made it even easier for rights holders to access and use our IP protection programs, which has been well-received by leading brands, SMEs and industry. While we grew the number of rights holders registered for the program by 11% YoY, the number of takedown requests declined by 25% YoY as a direct result of our ability to remove infringing listings before they make it to our marketplaces. In fact, 98% of these proactive takedowns were removed before a single sale could be made, and 97% of all takedown requests were handled within 24 hours. We have also continued to take our work offline, providing leads to law enforcement that resulted in over 1,000 arrests and the closure of nearly 1,000 offline manufacturing and distribution locations.
In light of all this, it’s clear that no matter how much action we take and progress we make, the USTR is not actually interested in seeing tangible results. Therefore, our inclusion on its list is not an accurate representation of Alibaba’s results in protecting brands and IP, and we have no other choice but to conclude that this is a deeply flawed, biased and politicized process.
IP is the lifeblood of business today and protecting it is essential in safeguarding the trust we have established with our merchants and consumers. Our results on this front speak for themselves. More than 100,000 brands operate on Alibaba’s marketplaces – including 75% of the world’s most valuable consumer brands – and this is a clear demonstration of the trust that rights holders place in Alibaba.
In the face of all of the results Alibaba has delivered both on its own, as well as through collaboration, with brands, associations, regulators and law enforcement, the choice made today by the USTR to disregard our progress is entirely counterproductive. The deep irony is that, while the Notorious Markets process is supposed to be a tool to incentivize IP enforcement, today’s decision removes that incentive by proving that USTR’s decisions are no longer driven by the strength of a company’s IP protection system. Nevertheless, this will not deter Alibaba from our commitment as the leading protector of intellectual property worldwide.
For more detail on Alibaba’s brand protection efforts see infographic here.