Brand knock­offs tar­geted by big data

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Hangzhou zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Copy­right pro­tec­tion chiefs from across China con­verged on Alibaba’s head­quar­ters on Tues­day to learn how the e-com­merce gi­ant’s big data tech­nol­ogy can help crack down on fake goods.

It was the first meet­ing of the Cloud Sword al­liance, which aims to com­bat the scourge of coun­ter­feit goods since it was ex­panded to 13 pro­vin­cial ar­eas in May.

Of­fi­cials saw a pre­sen­ta­tion on how Alibaba has used big data to iden­tify fake goods and to lo­cate online store own­ers, af­fil­i­ated deal­ers and fac­to­ries sus­pected of pro­duc­ing or sell­ing knock­offs. The in­for­ma­tion is then passed to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Such co­op­er­a­tion has proved ef­fec­tive and ben­e­fi­cial both to the gov­ern­ments and to the com­pany’s online shop­ping plat­forms, said Chai Haitao, deputy di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Of­fice of Com­bat­ing In­fringe­ment and Coun­ter­feit­ing, which or­ga­nized the meet­ing.

“Gov­ern­ments used to rely on whistle­blow­ers for clues, but with the help of big data they can take the ini­tia­tive on more cases,” he said.

“For Alibaba, the best way to block ven­dors with bad rep­u­ta­tions from re-en­ter­ing its shop­ping plat­forms is not clos­ing their stores but erad­i­cat­ing the crim­i­nal chain with the help of gov­ern­ment power.”

Cloud Sword was cre­ated in May 2015 as an al­liance be­tween Alibaba and Zhe­jiang prov­ince. The e-com­merce com­pany is based in Hangzhou, the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal.

Since then, the al­liance has grown to in­clude Shang­hai, Jiangsu, An­hui, Jiangxi, Hainan, Guang­dong, Fu­jian, Yun­nan, Guizhou, Sichuan and Hu­nan prov­inces, and the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion. Com­bined, their pop­u­la­tions and GDP ac­count for more than half the na­tional to­tal.

“Com­pa­nies in these re­gions, es­pe­cially those on the east coast, are ac­tive in pro­duc­ing and sell­ing fake prod­ucts,” Chai said.

So far, Alibaba has pro­vided lo­cal au­thor­i­ties with nearly 1,200 clues on sus­pected sell­ers and pro­duc­ers of fake goods, as­sist­ing po­lice in catch­ing 880 sus­pects and seiz­ing goods val­ued at more than 3 bil­lion yuan ($450 mil­lion).

Huang Guanghua, a se­nior in­spec­tor in the Guang­dong Pro­vin­cial In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the num­ber of cases re­lated to in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty in­fringe­ment more than dou­bled from April to June, be­fore the prov­ince joined the al­liance.

Those who make and sell coun­ter­feit goods are in­creas­ingly us­ing e-com­merce plat­forms, but in most cases they have a de­tailed di­vi­sion of la­bor scat­tered across dif­fer­ent re­gions, with el­e­ments both online and off­line, which makes the vi­o­la­tions harder to de­tect us­ing tra­di­tional means, Chai said.

For ex­am­ple, an online shop that sells knock­offs is reg­is­tered in Zhe­jiang prov­ince, but the op­er­a­tor, the factory that pro­duces the fake goods and the store­houses in the chain are all in dif­fer­ent prov­inces, Chai said.

“But the good thing is that all the sales and pay­ments online leave a dig­i­tal record,” he said.

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