Counterfeiters are a scourge for Alibaba, owner of China’s biggest ecommerce platform, triggering clashes with regulators at home and abroad. It was sued by Gucci and other brands in the Paris-based Kering stable in 2015 and, less than a fortnight ago, was put back on a US government blacklist of “notorious markets” known for selling fake goods.
Alibaba said yesterday that it provided sufficient leads to enable Shenzhen Luohu District police to raid one seller last August and confiscate more than 125 counterfeit Swarovski watches, valued at some Rmb2m ($288,000). It has now filed a lawsuit in Shenzhen against it and another vendor claiming Rmb1.4m in damages for contract and goodwill violations.
Zheng Junfang, Alibaba’s chief platform governance officer, said: “We want to mete out to counterfeiters the punishment they deserve in order to protect brand owners. We will bring the full force of the law to bear on these counterfeiters so as to deter others from engaging in this crime wherever they are”.
Lawyers said the move was long overdue and a necessary step in the face of growing criticism from regulators and manufacturers — specifically from makers of luxury goods, which are regularly copied and sold in online marketplaces.
“They are trying to prove they do take it seriously and are trying to do something to get rid of fakes on their platforms, even if it’s just a claim in Shenzhen,” said Paul Haswell, Hong Kong-based Technology Media Telecoms partner at law firm Pinsent Masons.
“他们正试图证明他们确实在认真对待该问题，并试图为摆脱其平台上销售的假货做些事，即便这只是在深圳的一次索赔而已，”品诚梅森律师事务所(Pinsent Masons)驻香港的科技、媒体和电信业务合伙人保罗•哈斯维尔(Paul Haswell)表示。
Alibaba has listed other counterfeiters against whom it plans to take action. It claimed to have removed more than twice the number of infringing product listings in 2016 than in the year earlier.