Alibaba, online brand protection, intellectual property, trademarks

How to Protect Your Brand on Alibaba

“I am afraid that something we notice but don’t prevent today will eventually grow into a cancer for a company’s future development… that’s why I think I will surely regret it if we don’t do well in fighting counterfeits,” Ma Yun, Alibaba’s chairman, said at his last news conference before he officially stepped down as CEO on May 10, 2013.

Like eBay, Craigslist and other online portals, Alibaba, a multi-billion dollar Chinese B2B trading platform, is high on the list of marketplaces that counterfeiters target to sell their knock-off goods.

Alibaba uses filtering software to screen for key terms and has a team that does manual searches for words that the software does not pick up.

Unfortunately, these efforts do little to safeguard against counterfeiters who can outsmart the filtering software and the team is not large enough to police the online marketplace in a significant way.

Due to the sheer volume of traffic these sites receive, it’s impossible for large online marketplaces to enforce trademark protection laws, and the courts agree. This is where brands need to assign brand protection staff to pick up the slack.

Part of the challenge that brands face online is a lack of uniformity; each marketplace has their own process that brands can follow to protect their intellectual property.

This post is the most recent of a series of articles that are designed to educate brands in what they can do to fight counterfeits on each platform, often in conjunction with lawyers, private investigators and the police.

Our last post was on What Brands Can Do to Fight Counterfeiting on eBay. Now let’s address how brands can protect themselves on Alibaba.

Join AliProtect

Alibaba has set up an online reporting system, called AliProtect, to help brand owners protect their trademark and other intellectual property online. AliProtect offers brands a claim process where brand owners can report any suspicious listings, which can be taken down.

Many brands and lawyers don’t understand the reporting system. “Some companies just provide us with a webpage, member name or a particular keyword or trademark and ask us to take down the listings,” says Elsa Wong, Alibaba’s senior legal director. Here’s a breakdown of the process to request that a listing be removed from Alibaba:

  1. Upload proof of documentation of intellectual property ownership, and select offending users.
  2. Aliprotect verifies information for accuracy.
  3. Once verified, the brand lists details of the listings.
  4. Aliprotect notifies the potential infringers and they have an opportunity to either agree with the complainant or file a counter-notification.
  5. Brands can accept the counter-notification or submit details of the dispute.
  6. AliProtect investigates the dispute to decide whether to remove the listings.

Wong states that part of the investigation involves determining the “extent to which a certain web page poses a threat and [they] calculate a score as to how likely it is that the page carries counterfeit goods.”

Depending on the nature of the infringement, the investigation could result in the termination of an infringer’s membership.

The founder of Slice, TJ Scimon, demonstrates how he used AliProtect to report infringers and get the listings removed from Alibaba.

Brands with any questions about how to use AliProtect can contact customer service at 1-888-983-1688 or email

In future posts, we will be addressing how a brand can protect their intellectual property on Craigslist.

Photo Source: Flickr

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