5 August 2016

Judge hands Alibaba partial victory in US

A US district court has partially dismissed a lawsuit filed by luxury brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) that accused Alibaba of promoting the sale of counterfeit goods.

According to Reuters, US District Judge Kevin Castel, at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, dismissed racketeering claims put forward by France-based Kering—the parent company of several brands including Gucci and YSL.

The lawsuit, filed in May last year and reported on by WIPR’s sister publication TBO, claimed that Alibaba and 14 other companies were selling counterfeit goods and formed an enterprise that aimed to profit from items including fake Gucci handbags.

But Castel said Kering's claims failed to allege facts that could “sustain those claims” and failed to allege the existence of an enterprise under federal racketeering law.

Racketeering is associated with organised crime and often involves offering a dishonest service to solve a problem that wouldn’t otherwise exist without the enterprise offering the service.

“The fraud perpetrated by each merchant defendant could be accomplished without any assistance from any other merchant defendant,” Castel said.

The ruling does not affect other trademark-related claims against Alibaba which will continue to be heard in court.

In May this year, Gucci terminated its membership with the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition in what was an alleged protest at Alibaba joining one of the organisation’s new membership categories.

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More on this story

5 July 2016   E-commerce website Alibaba has launched a new system that it says streamlines communications and collaboration to help improve intellectual property enforcement online.
15 June 2016   Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma has reportedly said that counterfeit goods are often “better quality” than the original product.