Alibaba Group announced its official membership in the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) as the first e-commerce company to join the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to combating product counterfeiting and piracy.
Alibaba Group and the IACC’s partnership began in 2013 with the development of the IACC MarketSafe® Program, a strategic collaboration to help IACC members identify and take down infringing listings on Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces via an expedited removal procedure.
Since its launch, the initiative has resulted in a 100% take-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.
Alibaba had hoped as an official member of the IACC, Alibaba will have access to a global network of more than 250 brands and other IP experts working to develop and implement collaborative solutions to online counterfeiting and piracy. Alibaba will also be able to learn from and contribute to constructive discussions through IACC’s Member Engagement Groups on growing counterfeiting trends and IP best practices with other committed industry members.
Not so fast: The Anti-counterfeiting group suspended Alibaba shortly after this announcement
The IACC group said Friday it was suspending Alibaba’s membership following an uproar by some companies that view the Chinese e-commerce giant as the world’s largest marketplace for fakes.
The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition told members that it had failed to inform the board of directors about conflicts of interest involving its president, Robert Barchiesi. Earlier Friday, The Associated Press reported that Barchiesi had stock in Alibaba, had close ties to an Alibaba executive and had used family members to help run the coalition. The coalition, in a letter to members sent after the AP report came out, said conflicts weren’t disclosed to the board “because of a weakness in our corporate governance procedures.” It said the failure was not because of “inaction on Bob’s part,” referring to Barchiesi.
The coalition said that it is hiring an independent firm to review its corporate government policies.
In its letter, the board said that as a result of members’ concerns, it was suspending a new class of membership under which Alibaba had recently joined. The move would affect two other companies that signed up under the new rules.