On Fri., May 13, the Washington, D.C.-based International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) published a statement from the group's board of directors announcing the suspension of its General Membership category, thus removing members Alibaba, The RealReal and Wish.com.
"This will not affect our existing relationship or joint initiatives with them. We continue to stand by our inclusive approach to working with intermediaries," the letter states. Earlier last week, IACC announced its partnership with Alibaba on a MarketSafe Expansion Program, an extension of its 2013 program that helps Alibaba remove and close down listings and retail companies offering counterfeit goods on its online shopping platform Tabao Marketplace. This coming weekend, Alibaba founder Jack Ma originally planned to speak at IACC's 2016 spring conference in Orlando, FL.
The IACC has had to defend its decision to create a General Membership category before, but with fashion brands like Gucci, Michael Kors and Tiffany & Co. recently removing themselves from the group — specifically in protest of Alibaba's entry as a member — the board of directors took action to address these concerns. A disclosed conflict of interest from IACC President Robert Barchiesi also influenced the group's decision which, according to the Associated Press, shows that Barchiesi had stock in Alibaba and close ties with an executive of the company.
"Certain aspects of the disclosed conflict, however, were not communicated to the Board because of a weakness in our corporate governance procedures," said the IACC's board of directors letter. "This failure to disclose was not attributable to inaction on Bob's part. We believe that Bob's performance and accomplishments as President have been exemplary, and he has the Board's full confidence and support."
In addition to suspending its General Membership category, IACC has also hired an independent firm to review and assess the entire organization's "implementation of corporate governance measures, internal controls, policies, procedures and by-laws."
Update, 5/18/16: Ma has canceled his appearance and keynote speech at the IACC spring conference. President of Alibaba Group Michael Evans and Max Baucus, U.S. ambassador to China, are confirmed as speakers.