Alibaba calls for tougher laws and punishment for counterfeiters

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 10:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 10:33pm

E-commerce giant Alibaba Group has called for stricter laws and heftier penalties against product counterfeiting.

The company said such illegal activities have caused damage to the manufacturing and business environment, and hurt the interest of consumers and merchants.

“To date, many of those involved in counterfeiting have escaped sanction, shown by an extremely low conviction rate,” the company said in a statement after a press conference on Monday. “Ambiguities in the law have meant that enforcement officers have found it difficult to classify and quantify cases of counterfeiting let alone commence legal proceedings.”

The Hangzhou-based company is the owner of the South China Morning Post.

Alibaba said it has identified 4,495 leads on possible counterfeiting cases in 2016, each involving a value of goods exceeding the statutory minimum of 50,000 yuan for criminal investigation.

Of these, only 1,184 cases were taken on by the relevant authorities, which resulted in just 33 convictions, or 0.7 per cent of the total.

Some 37 out of the 47 convicted individuals involved in counterfeiting crimes were granted probation, it added.

“The current regulations are no longer able to cope with the need to fight counterfeiting,” Jessie Zheng, chief platform governance officer of Alibaba, told the conference on Monday.

She underscored the importance of stringent anti-counterfeiting laws.

“A clear message was sent to society that there will be serious legal consequence to drunk-driving, creating an effective deterrent to this criminal behaviour. The same should apply to counterfeiting,” she said.

Alibaba said in one successful case, after a four month-long investigation, public security agents in 12 provinces and cities raided 13 factories and stores last July. The action resulted in the arrest of 16 people on suspicion of selling counterfeit Kingston and Samsung memory chips on Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer marketplace Taobao.