The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based group, announced mid-April that it would be opening up membership to "intermediaries," with China's biggest e-commerce player Alibaba as the first to join — and luxury brands are not pleased. According to a report by Associated Press, Gucci notified the group it would be leaving last Wednesday.
Gucci joins Michael Kors, which quit the group in April after calling Alibaba "our most dangerous and damaging adversary." Alibaba has long been unpopular with the luxury world: Currently, it is being sued by Kering Group for selling knockoffs of its brands, such as Gucci and Saint Laurent, to customers in the U.S.
In 2014, the IACC partnered with the Chinese e-commerce brand, offering its expertise in counterfeiting to help Alibaba remove fakes from its websites. At the time, Kering dropped a lawsuit against Alibaba, citing "constructive dialogue," and the company claimed to spend $16.1 million fighting counterfeits. The IACC notes that Alibaba's membership falls under special terms, which do not give it leadership positions or voting rights.
The IACC defends its decision to allow Alibaba's entry with a statement on their website. "Our General Member category was created in recognition of the integral role that intermediaries play as part of the solution and in eBay's and others' interest in joining," it says. "By bringing intermediaries to the fold, we are offering our current membership a new way to work with these entities directly while coordinating a collective effort to develop solutions to global counterfeiting and piracy."
It is perhaps worth noting that, ultimately, eBay decided against joining the coalition.
Both Gucci and Michael Kors declined to comment on this story.