The run-up to a Chinese Shopping holiday known as Singles Day (in honor of unattached consumers who are encouraged to buy themselves nice things) has tipped off a trademark spat between Chinese e-commerce players. The dispute came into focus after Alibaba rival, JD.com, publicly published a letter from Alibaba that warns competitors about using “11/11” in their marketing.
The “11/11′ promotion for Singles Day is a registered trademark of the Alibaba company, a fact that JD.com chose to make public by publishing on one of their social media accounts a warning from Alibaba’s TMall marketplace about running “11/11” promotions that are not officially connected to Alibaba.
“We express our extreme indignation and condemn some e-commerce companies for their demeaning activities,” Alibaba’s Tmall said in the letter, without disclosing specific examples of activities to which it objected. Tmall said publishers would bear joint liability for any breach of China’s advertising law.
JD responded on Weibo that Alibaba’s warning was counter to “the open spirit of the Internet and the principles of fair competition,” and said the move would “limit consumer choice and damage consumer interests.”
Singles day is big business in China and worldwide as it is the planet’s largest online shopping event, total sales processes last year exceeded $8 billion. Alibaba’s payment system alone processed $5.8 billion worth of transactions on November 11. That is more than the amount sold in the United States on Black Monday and Cyber Friday – with almost a third of China’s population visiting Alibaba websites during the 24-hour period last year.
JD posted sales of $1.6 billion during its own Singles’ Day promotion last year, which extended over 12 days and ran a distant second to Alibaba.