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Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma has called on Chinese legislators to treat counterfeiters and counterfeiting in the same way as they did when successfully cracking down on drink driving.

Jack MaIn a post on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, he wrote, “Nothing short of a concerted and unified effort by lawmakers, the judiciary and the public at large would stamp out the problem. Like five years ago, if the drink driving debates and controversies had never happened, society would not have agreed on the proper legal penalties."

Ma’s post comes a week after Alibaba, a global on-line, e-commerce and marketplace provider, called for tougher laws, stricter enforcement, and stiffer penalties to crack down on purveyors of counterfeit goods in China.

Alibaba said China’s “ambiguous counterfeiting laws” were hampering authorities’ ability to build legal cases against counterfeiters, resulting in a low conviction rate that is “the fundamental reason for the inefficiency in combating counterfeiting and protecting intellectual property".

Alibaba has long faced criticism over the sale of counterfeit goods by independent vendors in its giant e-commerce marketplaces, which have some 1.5 billion product listings.

To maintain the trust of consumers and legitimate merchants selling on its platforms, the company has been waging an escalating war to control the problem, employing a range of tactics to combat fakes and put counterfeiters out of business. Alibaba screens and monitors product listings using manpower and advanced search, image recognition, and big-data technology.

Alibaba uses big data and identified 4495 leads for offline investigations, which resulted in the successful criminal prosecution of 469 cases – just over 10%. It says sentencings occurred in 33 cases, 80% of which were for probation.

It also studied 200 counterfeit cases penalised by the Bureau of Commerce and Industry last year, and the average fine was RMB10,000 (about $2000). 

Ma continued the push for stiffer laws, enforcement, and penalties, saying existing ones were inadequate. “There is a lot of bark around stopping counterfeits, but no bite. Longer sentences and bigger fines would discourage recidivism. The lack of deterrents is stunting China’s innovation, hurting its reputation and threatening the country’s future,” he wrote.

Ma is also chairman of the China Entrepreneurs Club and the influential group has added its weight calling for the government to increase the legal cost of counterfeiting and further develop laws, noting the battle will be a lengthy one and require both authorities and businesses to remain resolute.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!


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