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Friday, 12 January 2018

Alibaba released the 2017 Annual Report on Intellectual Property Protection

On Jan. 10, Alibaba released the 2017 Annual Report on Intellectual Property Protection (hereinafter referred to as the Report), which is the very first annual report from this e-commence giant in the area of IP protection. 

The full text is not available yet (if readers are interested, the English version of the 2016 Report could be accessed here); nevertheless, based on available news reports, the outline and the key data of the Report are clear: 

The scene of the press conference of the Report.
@ Hangzhou
1. “2017 was the year of historic breakthrough in terms of the protection of IP and the governance of the online fake goods.” -- Ms. Junfang Zheng, the Chief Platform Governance Officer at Alibaba said.

In the context of the 17% increase in the number of rights holders working together with Alibaba, the overall amount of the IP complaints dropped by 42%. Some key figures are: 
  • 97 percent of the links containing fake goods were immediately removed once posted online, before any transactions took place; 
  • 95 percent of the IP-related complaints lodged by rights holders were handled and closed within 24 hours. The fastest case took a mere 1h2m15s;
  • In 2017, the number of the listings that were proactively deleted by Alibaba was 27 times as much as the ones that were taken down based on the complaints lodged by rights holders;
  • Out of every 10,000 trades, merely 1.49 were suspected as counterfeits (2.1 in the previous year). 
Alibaba cooperated with 23 provinces, and signed strategic cooperation agreements with the public security bureaus of 12 provinces/direct-controlled municipality. Alibaba clued the police about 1,910 cases of suspected sales or production of counterfeit goods, which resulted in catching 1,606 suspects and destroying 1,328 sites of production. The amount of money involved in the cases was roughly 430 million Chinese yuan (€ 54 million). 

2. Data technology has been transformed into a huge driving force for cracking down the counterfeits 

Thanks to the 9 major technologies (i.e. the commodity brain, the identification model of fakes, the image recognition algorithm, the semantic recognition algorithm, the commodity database, the real-time interception system, the biometric authentication, the big data sampling model, and the platform of data synergy between government and enterprises), the daily monitoring of nearly 2 billion commodities on the platform is literally taking place in real time. 

The big data technology allows the platform to spot the questionable items as well as 600 million pictures that online dealers published. Remarkably, in 2017, 240,000 Taobao stores on suspicion of selling fake goods were spotted and closed, comparing with 180,000 in the previous year. 

3. The contribution to the better judicial attention on anti-counterfeiting 

Ms. Junfang Zheng called 2017 “the year of gaining the full social consensus of ‘tackling the counterfeits in the same way as punishing drunk driving’”. The saying was firstly proposed by Mayun (known as Jack Ma) in his open letter to the representatives of the Lianghui, pointing out that the criminal responsibility for counterfeiting was overly lenient. 

"Ha! We found you."🕶️
In 2017, Alibaba initiated and won the very first "e-commerce platform vs. the counterfeits seller" case in China, which was selected as one of the 10 major civil administrative cases of the people’s court in 2017, and was shortlisted for the 10 major cases of promoting the process of the rule of law. These all indicate that the online selling of the counterfeit goods which has been criticized for many years has finally received unprecedented attention. 

The implementation and application of the national administrative law enforcement and judicial encirclement, including criminal, civil and administrative matters, all demonstrate that China’s governing system in the fight against the manufacture and sale of goods is improving day by day”, said Ms. Junfang Zheng. 

4. The source of the online counterfeiting is still rampant in the offline world 

The battlefield is not only online. According to the data analyses of 2016 and 2017, a large amount of online shops that have been shut down due to selling counterfeit goods changed their makeover before long and made a comeback, keeping following the same old disastrous road. 

Mr. Jingkai Chen, the officer of the IP detachment of Zhejiang provincial public security department, pointed out that, many law enforcement agencies have confirmed that the sources of counterfeit goods have not been eradicated. Moreover, their division of labor is more and more compartmentalized; meanwhile, their capabilities of anti-reconnaissance and covert have been continuously strengthened. 

The phenomenon of “cross-border and cross-platform” has become increasingly serious -- from YouKu to YouTube, from WeChat to Facebook -- one time effort is far from sufficient, and the fundamental solutions to the source of offline fake production is still a long way to go. 

Photo courtesies: the 1st one: IPR Daily; the 2nd one: nyankichi5656.


THE US anon said...

Is "data technology" sort of like "business method technology"...?

If the subject matter eligibility question can be avoided by appending the word "technology" to any subject matter, then why has this not been done already (in at least my home sovereign of the US?

Anonymous said...

Sounds good at first sight. But I personally have applied to register an account at Alibaba's IP Protection Platform, and my experience is far from enjoyable. Account is being under approval, no reaction for almost 2 months, no response to any email sent to Alibaba (IP Protection Platform doesn't have own contact email address, and emails to other addresses are simply ignored)... It seemed to me that everythng on Alibaba is designed to make submission of IP infringement claims complicated and time consuming, especially comparing to other platforms like eBay.

Tian Lu said...

@THE US anon, indeed, I agree with you on that point :)

Tian Lu said...

@Anonymous: maybe you can try the live chat of Alibaba:

Anonymous said...

It was actually a press conference about a report that was not released, and is still not available almost a week after said press conference...

Anonymous said...

How strange that this press conference, targeting a domestic audience (and therefore getting traction in the local media) about this « mysterious » report took place just 2 days before the publication by the USTR of its Notorious Markets list - that includes… wait… Taobao !

The USTR Report is available here:

As an appetizer, here is an excerpt: «We commend Alibaba for its efforts to date. However, while Alibaba presented its considerable efforts to address many concerns identified in the 2016 List, important unresolved concerns remain. For example, Alibaba has not identified metrics to assess objectively the scale of infringing products sold on nor objectively demonstrated that the volume or prevalence of counterfeit goods has decreased over the last year. The data provided by Alibaba to date do not directly reflect the scope and status of the counterfeiting problem on the platform, but instead is merely suggestive of progress made." 

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