WASHINGTON — Alibaba Group’s founder and executive chairman Jack Ma, who had been scheduled to give a keynote speech at the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition’s spring conference on Thursday, backed out on Tuesday after the IACC suspended the e-commerce giant’s membership last week.
The IACC, which had reportedly lost three major brands in two weeks, including Michael Kors, Gucci and Tiffany & Co., took the action of suspending Alibaba’s membership on Friday in the face of a threatened mass defection over charges of continued counterfeiting on Alibaba’s Taobao platform.
“The most recent IACC decision will not impact our aggressive fight against counterfeits,” said Jennifer Kuperman, head of Alibaba’s international corporate communications. “We look forward to engaging with the IACC membership on IP enforcement issues on May 19 in Orlando, Fla. Given the IACC’s desire for additional time to reflect upon the viability of its general membership category, Alibaba feels it’s best that Jack Ma postpone his appearance.”
Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, will represent the company at the conference.
The IACC board suspended its general membership category on Friday, a move that resulted in the suspension of Alibaba, Wish.com and The Real Real.
The suspensions come on the heels of an anonymous letter sent by a group of brand members to IACC’s board, calling into question the decision to include Alibaba in the organization. The brand members said they represented a majority of IACC’s membership and threatened to pull out if Alibaba remained a general member.
“We believe the IACC’s suspension of the general membership category is a step in the wrong direction and regrettable,” Kuperman said. “It highlights a fundamental difference in how we want to solve this problem.
“Alibaba has had a zero-tolerance policy toward counterfeit goods,” she added. “We are leading a constructive and collaborative approach to anticounterfeiting that involves working closely with all brands, regardless of our standing with the IACC. Unfortunately, those who pressured the IACC on this decision prefer a confrontational approach: pitting brands against Alibaba and other industry participants in the hopes of prolonged litigation.”
Kuperman said Alibaba chose to join the IACC to work with more brands on data-driven anticounterfeiting measures and to “exchange best practices in intellectual property protection.”
She urged the IACC and industry to adopt a “more open and collaborative approach” and to embrace new technologies.