That was fast! Just a week after Alibaba’s inclusion as a member in the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (“IACC”), the Washington, DC-based group has has suspended its membership status. In the week since the Chinese online giant joined, at least three brands, including Gucci, Michael Kors and Tiffany & Co., rescinded their membership status as a direct result of Alibaba being admitted. A number of other brands, including Longchamp and several unnamed members, were also vehemently opposed to the known counterfeiter’s inclusion into the non-profit organization devoted solely to combating product counterfeiting and piracy.
In a recently obtained letter to the IACC board, the group writes:
In consideration of some of the concerns raised by our membership, Bob Barchiesi, president of IACC, has recommended and the board has agreed to suspend the recently announced general membership category to allow further discussion and consideration. This will result in the suspension of the memberships of Alibaba, Wish.com and The RealReal at this time. While the IACC stated that the suspension would not affect its relationship with any of the affected brands, Alibaba responded to its suspension with diplomacy, stating that it still believes that in order to address counterfeit goods effectively, a collaborative approach is required.
“The only way to solve the complex, industry-wide issue of counterfeiting is through strong industry collaboration and we believe that intermediaries, like Alibaba, must be an integral part of the solution,” said Jennifer Kuperman, head of international corporate affairs at Alibaba Group. “Whether or not we are a member of the IACC, we will continue our productive and results-oriented relationships with brands, governments and all industry partners.”
It is worth noting that despite Alibaba’s suspension, its President, Michael Evans, will still serve as the keynote speaker at the IACC annual meeting held in Orlando, Florida this week. According to a statement from the Chinese giant:
The most recent IACC decision will not impact our aggressive fight against counterfeits. We look forward to engaging with the IACC membership on IP enforcement issues on May 19th in Orlando, Florida. Given the IACC’s desire for additional time to reflect upon the viability of its general membership category, Alibaba feels it best that Jack Ma postpone his appearance. We have informed the IACC of our decision, and are pleased to announce that the President of Alibaba Group, Michael Evans, will represent Alibaba at the conference.