One month after its acceptance into the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), Alibaba’s membership has been suspended. A number of major brands protested Alibaba’s original acceptance and questioned the company’s commitment to fighting counterfeiting.
Alibaba announced its inclusion in the IACC on April 13. However, the IACC board soon received an anonymous e-mail requesting that IACC cancel Alibaba’s membership. The email threatened that a lot of members would withdraw from the organization if Alibaba stayed in.
Michael Kors and Gucci announced their withdrawal from IACC after Alibaba’s acceptance. Michael Kors released a statement called Alibaba the company’s “most dangerous and damaging adversary.”
Michael Kors General Counsel Lee Sporn said that, “Alibaba’s strategy has consistently been to provide lip service to supporting brand enforcement efforts, while doing as little as possible to impede the massive flow of counterfeit merchandise on its site.”
Gucci said that in the fight against counterfeit products, the company did not want to sit at the same table as Alibaba.
Alibaba stressed that Alibaba Group has more than 2,000 full-time employees and 5,000 community volunteers responsible for anti-counterfeiting measures. The company has invested over 1 billion Yuan to fight counterfeiting.
AP reported that IACC told its members on Friday that it had failed to report a conflict of interest with Alibaba to its board of directors. IACC president Robert Barchiesi holds stock in Alibaba, has close ties to an Alibaba executive, and had used family members to help run IACC.
Alibaba has been listed in the New York Stock Exchange since 2014. Alibaba shares reportedly only make up a small part of Barchiesi’s stock portfolio.
Matthew Bassiur, the vice president of global intellectual property enforcement at Alibaba hired Barchiesi’s son, Robert Barchiesi II, to work at Apple back in 2011. Alibaba said that Bassiur hired Barchiesi’s son on his merit. Apple declined to comment.
"Many brands are concerned that Alibaba's IACC membership and the personal ties between the parties will affect the IACC's ability to provide objective criticism of Alibaba in a public setting," said counterfeiting lawyer and former IACC employee Kristina Montanaro Schrader.
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Keywords: IACC Alibaba International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition
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