Alibaba Launches English Version Of Anti-Counterfeiting Tool

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has launched an English-language version of TaoProtect, one of its counterfeit reporting system. Used on Tmall and Taobao (Alibaba’s top B2C and B2B platforms, respectively) TaoProtect lets merchants report listings that infringe on copyrights, patents and trademarks.

The online sale of imported goods, called cross-border e-commerce, is an important growth segment for Chinese e-commerce companies like Alibaba and rival, thanks to an increase in disposable income and the perception that products, especially toiletries and food, made overseas are safer. In order to facilitate cross-border transactions, Alibaba is investing heavily in its international logistics network.

Winning the trust of foreign vendors, however, is just as important. As is inevitable for any e-commerce platform of its size, Alibaba has struggled to police counterfeits.

This has resulted in headaches like a lawsuit filed by Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and other luxury brands that alleged Alibaba allowed knock-offs on its sites and a highly publicized run-in with China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) after the government agency published a white paper (later removed from its website) accusing Alibaba of not doing enough to prevent illegal activities on its sites.

Tmall and Taobao have a combined total of 10 million active sellers, which makes it hard to catch all knock-offs. By making TaoProtect more accessible to Western sellers, however, Alibaba might be able to assuage some of their concerns and attract more brands to its platforms.

The company already has tools in place, including big-data analytics that identify suspicious listings and where they originate, that have enabled it to take measures like the purge of 90 million suspicious listings before its initial public offering last fall.