Alibaba Sues Counterfeiters on its Platform

For years, foreign brand owners have complained about the large numbers of fakes being offered on the Chinese online marketplaces Alibaba and Taobao. Indeed are those platforms full of counterfeit products and most brand owners think that Alibaba is not putting enough effort into combatting the surge of fakes on offer.

Yet now Alibaba reacts to US authorities’ action to list China’s biggest player in E-Commerce on their blacklist of “notorious marketplaces”.

Alibaba filed a lawsuit in Shenzhen against two unnamed vendors offering fake products on Taobao and claims damages of 1.4 million Yuan (about 200,000 US$). Moreover, the company announced that this won’t remain the only action to cope with the counterfeiting problem on its platforms. While this first strike mainly serves to scare off other counterfeiters, Alibaba will from now on continue to enforce a stricter enforcement policy on its platforms.

From our daily work we know the problem concerning the very large numbers of counterfeits being offered on Chinese online marketplaces. We also notice that counterfeiters become smarter and increasingly adapt their strategies. They no longer offer counterfeits under the original brand name, but rather use generic keywords which are not recognized by automated web crawlers for the detection of counterfeits. This makes manual surveillance conducted by skilled researchers necessary, who are able to identify fakes through images and product descriptions.

It remains to be seen if Alibaba and other online marketplaces will really be able to cope with the counterfeiting problem if the counterfeiters are able to adapt to the new, stricter enforcement policy of the platform.

Picture: Alibaba / CHINABRAND

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