29 September 2020Muireann Bolger

Alibaba launches advisory committee to strengthen SME IP protection

The Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance (AACA) has launched an industry-led IP advisory committee dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

According to the announcement yesterday, the SME advisory committee (SAC), which comprises SMEs from countries including the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, “will bring a stronger SME perspective” to AACA processes.

Matthew Bassiur, head of global IP enforcement at the Alibaba Group, said: “We are proud to be the first e-commerce platform to create an IP advisory committee comprised solely of SMEs. Their insights are invaluable, and will further enable Alibaba to continue its efforts in advancing industry best practices.”

He added: “We established the SME advisory committee to provide a forum for discussing the unique issues that SMEs face in IP enforcement.”

Launched nearly four years ago, the AACA brings together rights owners and other IP stakeholders to share industry and technical expertise to fight IP infringement. The membership has grown to more than 180 rights holders, representing nearly 600 brands from around the world – up from 30 rights holders at its launch in January 2017. Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Fossil, Siemens, Dyson, Kohler and  Coach were among the latest brands to join the alliance last year.

On Thursday, September 24, the SAC hosted its inaugural meeting virtually, with 17 SMEs from the US and Europe joining to discuss organisational structure, upcoming initiatives and ways to collaborate within the AACA.

SAC members represent 10 different industries: accessories, alcohol and tobacco, apparel, home, industrial products, personal care, pharmaceuticals, publishing, smart devices and toys. The AACA will also set up a parallel committee for SMEs based in China. In addition to addressing SME-specific issues, the SAC will explore opportunities for collaboration and sharing information with other industry working groups within the AACA.

According to the statement, this engagement will allow SAC members to exchange best practices on IP protection and explore areas of collaboration with Alibaba and the AACA, including investigations into IP infringement and notice-and-takedown practices.

The launch of SAC is the latest initiative by Alibaba to enhance the IP protection of SMEs. The company’s IP protection platform features a dedicated support centre for SMEs with resources such as an easy-to-use online form for takedown requests.

Alibaba also works with the International Anti Counterfeiting Coalition to offer the IACC MarketSafe programme, which offers rights owners access to expedited registration, take-down procedures and complaint submissions. To date, this programme has led to the takedown of hundreds of thousands of infringing listings and permanent banning of more than 15,000 bad sellers, according to the IACC.

Steve Francis, director of the National IPR Coordination Center, said: “Small businesses are an integral part of the global economy and their IP rights must be protected at all costs. Alibaba’s new SME advisory committee is another positive step forward in providing a venue for open dialogue and advancing meaningful action.”

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