Last month, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) created a new membership category to allow Alibaba to join the prominent group. On Friday, the group announced that it had revoked Alibaba’s membership “in consideration of some of the concerns raised by our membership.” The suspension came just days after several IACC members including Michael Kors, Tiffany, and Gucci America quit the group protesting the inclusion of Alibaba.
There was a conflict of interest
The Western brands had raised concerns over the Chinese company’s commitment to fighting counterfeit goods. The IACC also informed its roughly 250 members that the group’s president Robert Barchiesi had a conflict of interest. Barchiesi reportedly held shares of the Hangzhou-based company, had close ties with an Alibaba exec, and had used family members to help run the group.
The Chinese online retail behemoth said in a statement that it would keep cooperating with global brands to weed out fake products from its platforms, even after being suspended. The company said the membership suspension “will not affect the formulation and implementation of our policies.” It will go on implementing the IACC’s MarketSafe Expansion program, which expedites the process of taking down fake listings on e-commerce platforms.
Michael Mauboussin: Here’s what active managers can do
Alibaba accused of profiting from sale of fakes
The IACC members, including French luxury goods maker Kering, have accused Alibaba of encouraging the sale of fake goods on its Taobao and Tmall platforms. The Wall Street Journal obtained a letter of protest from Michael Kors general counsel Lee Sporn, who wrote that granting Alibaba the IACC membership provided “cover to our most dangerous and damaging adversary.”
Alibaba founder Jack Ma is scheduled to speak at the IACC’s Spring Conference that runs between May 18-20. The Chinese company has been trying hard to shed its image as a haven for fake goods. Last month, the company teamed up with police in Fujian province to crack down on sellers of fake goods in various sectors including shoes, pharmaceuticals, home appliances, car parts, and baby products.