Alibaba cancels anti-counterfeit keynote but may be quietly wooing Washington

Alibaba has cancelled the keynote that it had planned to deliver at the the International Anti-Counterfeiting Organisation (IACC) annual conference this week, after days of conflict between major brands and the Chinese marketplace.

The issue arose when the IACC agreed a new type of membership for Alibaba, and similar organisations, in a bid to get the marketplaces that sell the bulk of fake goods to become part of the conversation.

Luxury brands such as Gucci, Michael Kors and Tiffany quickly withdrew memberships in protest, not wanting Alibaba to become a member. Alibaba has until now stood tall against the criticism.

Alibaba had planned to continue with founder Jack Ma speak at the annual IACC conference but pulled out last minute. Seeking Alpha has since reported that Jack Ma had instead gone ahead with meetings in Washington, suggesting that he’s attempting to build bridges with key American brands and commerce another route.

The issue has been ongoing for weeks, and even longer if the ongoing the legal spats between the likes of Alibaba and Gucci are to be included. Yet the issue grew more complicated earlier this week when Alibaba’s membership was suspended, not because of the protests, but because of potential conflict issues between the business and IACC president Robert Barchiesi.

CNBC is reporting that Alibaba is telling press in China that the IACC has been “kidnapped by the personal interests" of members. Earlier this week, in one of the blog posts that Alibaba put out defending the work it was doing to counteract fakes, it suggested that the debate was being powered by those profiting from arguments around IP, namely the lawyers.

“Those who have a financial interest in IP litigation would rather pit the brands against Alibaba, using public relations tactics that are not in the interest of anyone except themselves,” said Alibaba Group director and president Michael Evans.

Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte