The following is an email from Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang to the company’s Platform Governance team addressing the decision by the United States Trade Representative to restore Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace to the list of “notorious markets” where countefeit goods are freely sold. The email was made public by Alibaba Group.
Platform Governance team:
This is a disappointing moment for all of us.
Over the past year, we reorganized our team, optimized our tactics and armored up with technology. We spared no expense and manpower to upgrade our team, and launched an all-out war against counterfeits.
Over the past year, the platform governance team identified a large number of links to infringing products using big data analytics. The number of links removed was 16 times the number of links reported by rights owners. Working with law enforcement, we shut down many counterfeit-manufacturing factories and sent over 800 counterfeiters to prison in the protection of brand owners.
In today’s world, counterfeit manufacturers and sellers are global operations. Our platform governance team rose up to the challenge and was relentless in the fight over the past year. Platform governance team, you are the pride of Alibaba.
We are disappointed today, but not because we didn’t fight hard enough. It is because even though we gave it our all and then some, the United States Trade Representative has returned Taobao to the “Notorious Markets” list.
I want to remind everyone that we are not defined by those who cannot appreciate us for what we have achieved. What matters is whether we’ve done all that we can, whether consumer experience has been improved, and whether we have instilled fear into the hearts of counterfeiters.
Our efforts and investments into anti-counterfeit was never motivated by some list, and neither will it have any bearing on our continual fight against counterfeit moving forward. In all that we do, we are guided by our mission to “make it easy to do business anywhere,” to ensure and promote fairness on our Taobao marketplace, and to serve the 400 million consumers that love our retail marketplaces.
The fight against counterfeit is a fight against the dark side of human nature. Counterfeiters are like bacteria in the air that we breathe. Eradicating counterfeits require serious, long term commitment and cannot be achieved overnight. While others are focused on using technology to displace men, we are working on using technology to defeat counterfeiters. Our entire business is at stake in this. Today, our developers understand counterfeiters better than the counterfeiters understand themselves. Counterfeiters hate the police, but they fear Alibaba. That is the true measure of our success.
Today, USTR put us back on the “Notorious Markets” list. We will not dwell on whether it was fair and just. What we need to focus on is how can we improve and do even more? What new innovations can we develop and implement? How can we further optimize our technology? How can we be more precise? How can we act faster? How can we ensure the counterfeiting industry hate and fear us even more?
We also need to recognize that protectionism is ever present around the world and influences that are not free market-oriented come into play. As we accelerate our pace of globalization, certain countries will deploy all sorts of ways to fence themselves off. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if we encounter other situations similar to that of “Notorious Markets” in the future, where protectionism leads to malicious acts to players in the market. We know where we stand on the issue – we know what is right and what is wrong. We are committed to protecting intellectual property, but we will not be bullied by those who exploit the issue for unfair advantage. We won’t let Taobao become a notorious market. But we’re equally unafraid of malicious acts by the market.
Today, Alibaba has over 400 million users and every day 200 million consumers visit our sites. Ten million merchants collectively sold USD 500 billion worth of goods on our platform last year. This is a tremendous show of faith and trust, and that means more than anything else to us.
We know who we are and where we want to go. The rest is just noise. Let’s go, team!