Alibaba Founder Jack Ma: No, I Didn’t Mean That Counterfeit Goods Are Better Than Originals

Image courtesy of Leon Lee

Remarks to investors in China by Alibaba Group founder and CEO Jack Ma about the improving quality of counterfeit and knockoff goods must not have gone over well with the foreign name brands that the company hopes to attract to sell on its platforms. Ma sent an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal explaining that he didn’t actually mean that counterfeit goods are better.

Alibaba’s relationship with brands and designers can be tricky. One incentive to patrol the site vigorously and watch for errant intellectual property theft is that big brands want access to the company’s customers: it runs the biggest e-commerce platform in the world’s most populous country, after all.

“[W]hen I see reports in the press taking my recent words about counterfeit goods out of context, I feel compelled to set the record straight,” Ma says in the op-ed, citing his responsibility to the company’s stakeholders. He clarified that he had been referring to items made for sale within China, not items made to look like genuine branded products and meant to deceieve customers in and outslde of China.

There’s no place on Alibaba for companies that rip off another person’s intellectual property, the op-ed insists. “Alibaba is only interested in supporting those manufacturers who innovate and invest in their own brands,” wrote Ma, explaining that as orders from abroad have decreased, the factories that used to make high-quality items for foreign companies have turned to making similar items for the domestic market in China.

Actually stealing designs and trademarks is outright theft, and the company won’t stand for it. They aren’t even waiting for takedown requests to come in from the company: “For every one takedown request we receive from a brand, we have proactively removed eight,” Ma notes.

Counterfeit Goods Have No Place on Alibaba [Alibaba]

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