Ecommerce giant Alibaba has called for tougher laws and heavier penalties against individuals selling counterfeit goods in China.
In a public appeal this week, Alibaba called for developments in China’s “ambiguous” laws around counterfeiting, in a bid to counteract the low conviction rate and deter counterfeiters.
“Ambiguities in the law have meant that enforcement officers have found it difficult to classify and quantify cases of counterfeiting let alone commence legal proceedings,” Alibaba wrote in a statement.
“The extremely low conviction rate is the fundamental reason for the inefficiency in combating counterfeiting and protecting intellectual property. Current regulations are no longer able to cope with the need to fight counterfeiting. Criminals can escape any legal consequence, leaving law-enforcement agencies and consumers feeling helpless and society bearing the damage.”
Alibaba said its Platform Governance Department had used a combination of big data, brand owner reports, customer complaints and random checks to identify 4,495 counterfeiting leads in 2016. However, it claims authorities were only able to pursue 1,184 of the cases, leading to just 33 convictions, or 0.7%.
Jessie Zheng, Chief Platform Governance Officer of Alibaba Group, said, “The current regulations are no longer able to cope with the need to fight counterfeiting. Criminals can escape any legal consequence leaving law enforcement agents and consumers feeling helpless, and society bearing the damage.”
The public appeal is the latest move by the retail giant, which invests RMB 1 million annually in its crusade to curb counterfeit activity on its sites.
Alibaba took down 380 million product listings and shut down 180,000 Taobao stores and 675 operators between 2015 and 2016 as a result of its anti-counterfeiting action.
In January, the retail giant partnered with brands and anti-counterfeit experts to launch the Big Data Anti-Counterfeit Alliance, an industry initiative using big data to curb counterfeit activity.
Last month, Alibaba launched a boycott of firms that were abusing its intellectual property rights (IPR) complaint system.