Jack Ma said Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has “zero tolerance” for counterfeits, repeating a message that has so far failed to quell criticisms of its e-commerce platforms as a haven for knock-offs. “Brands and intellectual property must be protected and counterfeits are unacceptable,” Ma said in an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal. He used the opportunity to clarify comments he made to shareholders earlier this month, when he said Chinese-made counterfeit goods today have gotten better than genuine products. Ma said the comments were taken out of context.
With exports declining due to weaker demand, Chinese manufacturers are resorting to the internet and setting up their own brands to woo customers, presenting a challenge to the business model of some established labels, Ma wrote in the Journal. This has complicated efforts to root out fakes, which is why Alibaba is using real-time scanning of over 10 million new product listings a day, said Ma.
“Failing to protect original designs, trademarks and technology is akin to thievery, and it is detrimental not only to innovation but also to the integrity of the marketplace,” Ma said. “We do not and will never condone any act of stealing.”
Alibaba’s membership in the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, a nonprofit global organization that fights piracy, was suspended in May after just a month amid complaints from some members. Ma said in January last year that the company has zero tolerance for fakes on its e-commerce markets.