In an effort to combat fake goods sold online, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced on Monday the launch of a "Big Data Anti-counterfeiting Alliance." Up to 20 members have already joined, reports WWD, including Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, Samsung, Shiseido, Bioderma, Trendy Group, Amway, Pernod Ricard, Canon and Ford.
"The most powerful weapon against counterfeiting today is data and analytics, and the only way we can win this war is to unite," said Jessie Zheng, chief platform governance officer of Alibaba Group, in a statement.
Alibaba will provide alliance members with advanced technological support and protection from counterfeiting, and in exchange the global brands will provide such resources as "IP authentication know-how and anti-counterfeiting data." Alibaba claims that the information gathered within the alliance will not only prevent pirated listings from existing on Alibaba's platforms, but also further help with legal actions, investigations and prosecutions that occur offline.
Last year, Alibaba faced major criticism from the fashion industry, being deemed "our most dangerous and damaging adversary" by Michael Kors. The American brand pulled out of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition after the Washington, D.C.-based group started a new "General Membership" that included Alibaba. Gucci soon followed Michael Kors, calling it quits with the IACC. (At the same time, Alibaba was also being sued by Gucci's owner Kering Group for selling knockoffs of its brands.) Eventually, the IACC suspended its new membership category.
Since then, Alibaba has tightened its policies against fake goods and in a span of 14 months, the Chinese e-commerce giant removed 380 million product listings and closed about 180,000 stores on Taobao — a Chinese site similar to eBay that Alibaba also owns. (In December, the United States Trade Representative put Taobao on its "notorious markets" watchlist of retailers known to have counterfeits.) At the start of the new year, Alibaba also filed a lawsuit against two merchants for allegedly selling counterfeit Swarovski watches on its Taobao platform.
Most recently, Alibaba chairman Jack Ma made news headlines for his visit with Donald Trump in New York City earlier this month to discuss the creation of one million jobs in the U.S in five years. Later that same day, the president-elect also welcomed LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault to the Trump Tower to discuss U.S. manufacturing.