Michael Kors and Gucci America have jointly walked on the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition because Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba has been allowed to join. Alibaba faces wide criticisms — not to mention litigation — over the wide variety of fakes for sale on its marketplaces.
As if to add insult to injury to brands that feel that Alibaba's very existence is a risk to their identity, Alibaba isn't just joining up with the IACC. Founder, CEO and chairman Jack Ma will be the keynote speaker at the event's spring conference later this month.
The keynote speakership was reportedly the last straw for Michael Kors, which referred to Alibaba as "our most dangerous and damaging adversary" last month when it announced its decision to quit the IACC.
This latest move comes as Gucci is one of several brands suing Alibaba in New York's courts over counterfeiting across the Alibaba platform. Ma has said his firm would rather fight the case out in court and lose than settle at the cost of its dignity. The brands are in mediation - the suit is ongoing.
Last year, Alibaba narrowly avoided being labeled by the Office of the U S. Trade Representative’s as a blacklisted "notorious" market.
Alibaba maintains that it’s working hard to address its issue - brands counter argue that it is too slow and opaque in its efforts.
“Brand owners continue to report Alibaba platforms, particularly Taobao, are used to sell large quantities of counterfeit goods,” according to the USTR’s December report.
IACC president Robert Barchiesi told the Associated Press by email that attempting to exclude a player as large and instrumental as Alibaba from this conversation is simply not realistic at this phase of the game.
"Whether it's payment processors or online marketplaces, the choice is clear, they must be an integral part of the solution."