Taobao Marketplace Teams up with Louis Vuitton to Combat Counterfeits

China’s Taobao Marketplace has taken another step against counterfeit luxury goods by inking an agreement with Louis Vuitton to proactively remove intellectual property rights (IPR) infringing listings on it platform.

Louis Vuitton, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy, the world’s largest luxury brand, is well-known for its bags, totes and travel trunks, which are a staple accessory on the arms of fashionistas as well as perennial favorites of counterfeiters who peddle fakes with the characteristic “LV” badge offline and online throughout the world.

Under the agreement with Louis Vuitton, Taobao Marketplace will proactively take down product listings of suspected counterfeit goods and implement preventive measures to stop sellers from listing fake items. These measures strengthen the current system in place whereby brand owners notify Taobao of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringing items and then Taobao acts to remove them from the giant online shopping website.  

The agreement is part of ongoing efforts by Taobao Marketplace to work with brand owners to curtail fakes.  In August, Alibaba Group signed an agreement with world’s largest anti-counterfeiting group, the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) to work together against pirated goods. The agreement called on IACC members, which include Apple and The Walt Disney Company, to assist Taobao in identifying copyright-infringing products listed on the site. Taobao Marketplace reached a similar agreement last September with the U.S.-based Motion Picture Association (MPA). The website is also working with Chinese government agencies and law enforcement to identify and shut down factories and other sources of counterfeit goods.

The agreement between Louis Vuitton and Taobao Marketplace will go toward building a fairer and more transparent online business environment, the companies said in a joint statement on Friday.

“Such collaboration is invaluable to us, in order to prevent the manufacture, transport and sales of counterfeit goods, online as well as off-line,” said Valérie Sonnier, Global Intellectual Property Director for Louis Vuitton.

In 2012, about $1.5 billion worth of counterfeit goods were stopped by European Union customs officials, according to an EU report. Fake watches, bags and clothing made up 46 percent of the value of the intercepted merchandise. China remains the top source for counterfeit items to the EU, said the report published in August.

Although China has taken steps to toughen its anti-piracy initiatives and laws in the face of mounting international criticism, experts say the enforcement of those laws have been mixed and the fluid nature of China’s labour economy means that when one factory closes another opens somewhere else.

Taobao Marketplace, which was removed from the United States Trade Representative list of “notorious markets” for piracy last year, was once a magnet for these counterfeit sellers eager to reach a bigger audience. Taobao’s efforts to clean up its platform has made it harder for counterfeiters to successfully list and sell items, say company officials.

"Taobao Marketplace is dedicated to the protection of intellectual property rights and the fight against counterfeiting, said Ni Liang, Senior Director of Internet Security, Alibaba Group. “We firmly believe that the collaboration between brands, platforms and government agencies will create visible and significant results in the intellectual property enforcement space.”