Alibaba Expands its Big Data-fueled Anti-counterfeiting Program

This summer, Alibaba announced a series of measures designed to fight counterfeiting – not just online, but offline as well. China’s leading online platform released its “anti-counterfeiting maps” based on the big data analysis, as well as a blacklist of 100 companies that sell counterfeits online. This has led to a massive close-down of 180,000 online shops on the marketplace Taobao.

But that is not all: Alibaba announced the expansion of its “Operation Cloud Sword” program in cooperation with the Chinese governmental authorities, which tracks both the online activities and the factories of the counterfeiters. Besides, Alibaba has launched the “Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance” to fight against widespread counterfeits of famous brands with twenty international companies such as Swarovski, Samsung and Louis Vuitton.

According to the Alibaba Group, this approach is unique in the dimensions of big data use in combatting counterfeiting. The big data anti-counterfeiting system is able to analyze billions of data points per second and monitor suspicious accounts, products, or transactions – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The system uses over 600 diverse metrics such as seller behavior, product information, consumer reviews, and user reports.

The system has already contributed to the shutdown of factories producing Swarovski counterfeits, and the confiscation of 125 fake watches and two pirated official Swarovski seals with an estimated total value of 200 million RMB.

While big data analysis and the “internet-of-everything” might be very helpful in fighting against counterfeiters of luxury and consumer goods, they are not sufficient for sustainable combatting of counterfeiting of industrial goods. In other words, it is often not about bulk goods, but individual cases or small-batch sizes and the technology within the products. Hence, deep data instead of big data is crucial.

In industries such as mechanical engineering or medical technology, we often encounter cases of counterfeiters imitating the design of products, brands, or the trade dress of the original manufacturer. This indirect imitation is very often good enough to mislead customers and outsmart monitoring technology. The prosecution of such cases remains a hard offline investigation work.

Source: Alibaba Group

Picture: Alibaba Group

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