Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba reported that it has spent £100 million on trying to remove counterfeits from their network of websites in nearly two years. The huge amount has been invested not only on technology but also on people - the firm is reportedly increasing its anti-counterfeiting team by 10% from the existing 2,000 permanent staff. These numbers underline the issues that online marketplaces face on a daily basis to not only protect the intellectual property of brand holders but also ensure that customers buy genuine items with confidence.
"We bear a serious responsibility in this fight against counterfeits," said Jonathan Lu, chief executive of Alibaba Group in a statement published recently. "If e-commerce does well in China, that may have little to do with Alibaba Group, but if counterfeits in society are not tackled effectively, it has a lot to do with Alibaba Group."
Alibaba and its subsidiary, Taobao have become global e-commerce giants in a short space of time. On Chinese Singles Day last month, the group reported sales of over $9billion in just 24 hours. However, the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) believe than more than 10% of those sales were likely to be counterfeit.
Many nations from the USA to India report that the majority of goods seized by authorities every year as being suspected of being counterfeit, originate from China. With counterfeiting continuing to be a growing issue for brand holders, the news that Alibaba are taking proactive measures to assist with brand abuse detection should be welcomed but despite the huge investment, is it still a drop in the ocean. Havocscope estimate the black market economy to be worth $1.8 trillion so there's still quite a bit of work to do to make the online world a safer place.
Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications, NetNames.