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Fighting China's counterfeits in the online era

Date:9/25/2017 08:19 PM
 
 
BEIJING - A secret team in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has the task of pretending to be online consumers who test-buy purchases from the billion-plus products on its platforms.
 
They spot check about 100,000 products and invest around 100 million yuan ($15.15 million) a year on average. Around one in four online shops are checked annually.
 
"Spot checks are not random. They are guided by big data from our platforms," said team leader Qin Seng. Using product ratings, consumer disputes and other information, the team builds a model to identify suspected counterfeits and shops that sell counterfeits.
 
The whole process is videoed to retain evidence. The sample purchases are sent to rights holders or authoritative quality inspection agencies. If identified as fake, the products are removed from the platform. The vendors can face the closure of their online shops. If identified as genuine products, they are stored as Alibaba's assets.
 
Alibaba's Storehouse of Counterfeit Evidence is a 300-square-meter warehouse in Alibaba Group's Xixi Park, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Counterfeits can be stored there for more than three years as legal evidence.
 
The spot checks are symptomatic of China's battle against counterfeits in the internet era.
 
Chai Haitao, deputy director of the Office of National Leading Group of the Fight against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting, said that with the rapid development of China's internet economy, infringements and counterfeits are constantly renewed.
 
"We need to strengthen cross-sector, cross-regional, and cross-border cooperation to combat counterfeits. We also need to mobilize enterprises, industry organizations and the public," Chai said.
 
Alibaba's Anti-Counterfeiting Special Task Force, formed last year, actively works with local law enforcement agencies, said Qin Seng.
 
"After we clean up online shops selling counterfeits, the counterfeiters usually change their identities and places of dispatch, using more covert means to continue selling online," Qin said.
 
The team uses big data 

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