(The followingarticle outlines the background of the IACC’s creation of a general membership category for intermediaries, including Alibaba, with comments from IACC President BobBarchiesi.)
On April 14, the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated tofighting product counterfeiting and piracy,announced it had extended membership to e-commerce companies under a new general membership category. As a result of this development,Alibaba Group joined the organization as the first e-commerce company to become an official member. Alibaba’s membership application received unanimous support from theIACC Board of Directors, which is composed of representatives from some of the world’s most respected brands including Apple, Colgate Palmolive, Estee Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, P&G, Pfizer, Rolex and the Recording Industry Association of America, among others.
According to IACC President Bob Barchiesi, the new general membership category was created to include intermediaries with the goalof fostering collaborative and productive dialogue between all industries and sectors in order to combat counterfeiting and piracy.
Alibaba has beencollaborating with the IACC since 2013, work that led to the development of theIACC MarketSafe Program, which helps IACC members identify and take down infringing listings on Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall.com marketplaces via an expedited removal procedure. Since its launch, the initiative has resulted in a 100 percenttake-down rate when companies stand behind their claims; nearly 5,000 sellers’ store fronts have been closed for selling infringing products and permanently banned from the Taobao and Tmall platforms; and more than 160,000 infringing product listings have been removed.
Barchiesi articulated the reasons behind the IACC’s admission of Alibaba as the first general member, as well as the organization’s commitment to including other intermediaries, in a written response to Michael Kors General Counsel Lee S. Sporn, who criticized the IACC decision.Since Alibaba was admitted,two other companies have joinedas general members.
“The General Membership category is not an open invitation to any intermediary that wishes to associate itself with the IACC,” Barchiesi wrote.”It is intended to offer an opportunity to form constructive relationships that can be expected to advance the IACC’s mission.”
“General Membership requires greater screening, a limited monitored term, and includes carefully-considered safeguards,” he wrote, adding that Alibaba had shown its commitment to IP protection through the IACC MarketSafe program, which over the last two years has become among the “fastest, most substantively efficient take-down programs of any major platform.”
“We tell Alibaba what’s working, we’re adamant about what’s not, and most importantly, we assist them in helping and supporting the anti-counterfeiting needs of our brands,” Barchiesi wrote.
“With the full support of our Board of Directors, comprised of some of the world’s most prestigious and respected brands, the IACC has taken the position to embrace intermediaries that show serious commitment to fight counterfeiting,” he wrote. “Our history has proven that embracing change does not weaken one’s capacity to take a stand against harmful policies.”
MatthewBassiur, Alibaba Group’s vice president in charge of global intellectual-property enforcement, acknowledged the IACC Board for “recognizingthe importance of bringing industry and intermediaries together to fight counterfeiting, as well as for providing an environment where the MarketSafe program has been able to succeed.
“We are proud of our partnership with the IACC and appreciate the coalition’sacknowledgmentof Alibaba’s meaningful stepstoprotect brand rights,” Bassiur said. “Our demonstrated commitment to IP protection will continue ahead at full speed, and welook forward tofurtherexpanding our efforts and cooperation with all brands to help address this serious global issue. Our greatest strength comes from collaboration and action. We must focuson innovative solutions and not waste time establishing walls of division that only serve to weaken our collective efforts.”