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28 October, 2016

Securing your brand in order to safeguard against counterfeiters on the world's’ largest e-commerce marketplace, Alibaba, can seem like an overwhelming project. Alibaba ship nearly four times as many packages as Amazon per day. This year, Alibaba processed 300 million orders with a total worth of $17.8 billion dollars on their singles day sale, this does not include the partner websites Aliexpress, Taobao and Tmall. As a brand owner, it’s important to understand the differences between each platform as well as the scope of counterfeiting.

Globally, counterfeit and pirated goods represents almost $500 billion annually according to a recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is the equivalent of the GDP of Austria, or the combined GDP of Ireland and the Czech Republic. To compare, the market for footwear globally was just under $209 billion in 2014. The counterfeit industry is large and rapidly growing.

Counterfeiters often have ties to organized crime including the Mafia, the Camorra, the Triads, and the Yakuza. They utilize counterfeiters for money laundering and to fund other illicit activities like drug and human trafficking. Counterfeiting also gives criminals the opportunity to diversify their crime and provides a constant revenue stream. Should one aspect of organized crime’s business be shut down, counterfeiting often remains to fund the organization as it is seen as a “smaller offense.”

Counterfeit networks help infringers distribute product across all vectors of the Internet. In order to identify potential networks, be sure to listen to reports from consumers. Also, listen to complaints from your affiliate chain of lower priced or low quality product. If your brand is experiencing large scale issues, it is likely a criminal network is involved.
Once you believe you have found a potential network, you must investigate the details and if necessary outsource a professional investigations firms to conduct surveillance and gather cyber intelligence. Intelligence must gathered on seller names, websites, and a list of any known connections. Utilize that actionable intelligence to make informed enforcement decisions.

Lastly, keep a close working relationship with law enforcement, to ensure intelligence can be actioned on in timely matter. If the whereabouts are found of an offender, local law enforcement should already be up to date on the case, and thus will be able to act quicker than if they were not.

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