China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba is working with five Chinese government agencies to fight piracy in China. Founder and chairman Jack Ma was on hand at today’s event, warning Chinese brands that it’s in their long-term interest to respect intellectual property laws. Ma said:
This is a long-term effort … we want the indigenous brands to work together to protect IPR, because if you do not participate today, tomorrow you are the victims. Hopefully in 10 years, the Chinese internet economy will be a much better place because of the efforts we have started here today.
Polo Shao, chief risk officer at Alibaba Group, said today that “big data” technology and traditional law enforcement resources will make investigation and enforcement of China’s intellectual property laws more effective. Shao added:
On e-commerce platforms, every single transaction creates a record, and every piece of information about sellers of counterfeit products is traceable. Internet technology … when paired with offline efforts can be used to create targeted initiatives to drive intellectual property protection as well as cut off the head of the snake in an attempt to purge society of counterfeit goods.
Of Alibaba’s web properties, its C2C marketplace Taobao has been especially plagued with pirated goods. Former CEO Jack Ma even joked in a previous speaking appearance that piracy somewhat added a surprise element to shopping at Taobao. Putting jokes aside, Ma is serious about cracking down on pirated items in its marketplace with this partnership with the Chinese government. The company will even set up an in-house anti-piracy task-force to be headed by Polo Shao. Ma calls China’s common counterfeit branding a “cancer” and a “tumor in society.”
According to Alizila, Alibaba’s corporate blog, “more than allegedly 94 million infringing listings were removed from Alibaba Group platforms” last year and about “5.5 million of them were taken down as a result of complaints from rights owners.”
Taobao was removed from the US Trade Representative’s notorious pirate watch-list a few months ago, with the organization citing major IPR improvements on Alibaba’s various web properties. But the situation is far from solved – least of all on the company’s own e-commerce platforms.
Tackling piracy – both online and offline – should greatly help China repair her tainted reputation on the global stage.