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Plans set to protect United Kingdom businesses active on Alibaba

Date:11/20/2017 09:04 PM

By Help is on the way to protect British enterprises, especially the small and medium-sized ones that do business on Taobao, from intellectual property infringement.

The China-Britain Business Council said it will work with Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba Group to find a better solution to protecting those companies from the United Kingdom using the group's online shopping portal.

That may include a fast-track channel for UK brand owners, who can apply to the platform to verify suspicious knockoffs and remove them from the online marketplace, said Mick Ryan, head of business environment at the CBBC, during an interview with China Daily in Hangzhou on Nov 8.

"Currently there is a fast path for companies with a relatively higher complaint success rate. The fast path is accessible for companies of all sizes," Ryan said.

"We will try to figure out another mechanism more tailor-made for medium and small-sized ones with Alibaba to make their complaints about suspicious counterfeits easier and more effective," he said. 

The CBBC has nearly 1,000 members, most of which are British companies that have business in China. It will collect views from its members and pass them on to Alibaba, Ryan said.

This is part of a renewal of a three-year memorandum of understanding between the two sides signed that day, aimed at further strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights of the British brands on the basis of their existing partnership.

"The signing of this agreement is a significant step toward enhancing the protection of UK companies' IP in China," said Jeff Astle, executive director of the CBBC.

"It contains clear and ambitious commitments and the CBBC is confident about the positive impact our cooperation will have on the healthy growth of Chinese e-commerce and what that means for international brands here," he added.

Gill Smith, group IP director at British household appliances manufacturer Dyson, said cooperation between the CBBC and Alibaba over the past three years had enhanced their ability to protect Dyson's distinctive designs.

"That cooperation makes a real difference in our ability to protect consumers from poor quality imitation products," said Smith, who was present at the signing ceremony together with representatives from other British brands, including Burberry, Unilever and GSK.

Ryan said the MOU began in September 2014 when UK businesses sought to work more closely with Chinese online marketplaces.

The cooperation proved fruitful, he said, and achievements included the fast track for some companies to report suspicious knockoffs to Alibaba. This has a simplified reporting procedure and the reports are guaranteed to be responded to within 12 hours.

Ryan said the future relationship between the two sides will also focus on more combined efforts on offline law enforcement against counterfeiters - and Alibaba's big data technologies designed to spot and locate affiliated controllers, dealers and storehouses behind the online purchases.

In June last year, Alibaba used big data to help Chinese police to keep tabs on wholesalers suspected of importing fake motor lubricants from Malaysia and selling them online.

Authorities detained 11 suspects, including a Malaysian citizen, in provinces including Zhejiang and Guangdong.

That's after it was discovered that counterfeit Mobil, Shell and Castrol products were being sold on online shopping platforms, including Taobao. Nearly 10,000 barrels of fake lubricants with a street value of 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) were found at storehouses.

Tim Moss, CEO of the UK's Intellectual Property Office, said: "One very eye-catching thing Alibaba has done is move from looking at individual cases to a much more holistic and systematic approach, to really try to understand and improve the whole approach to make IP protection better for consumers."

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