Alibaba vows to tackle fakes

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, China's biggest e-commerce company, plans to step up efforts to fight counterfeiting, which the company head says is the biggest obstacle for its future development.

The Hangzhou-based company will spend "as much as it can" to tackle counterfeiting problems on its e-commerce websites, said Shao Xiaofeng, Alibaba's chief risk officer.

The company will set up a committee for intellectual property rights protection this year, which will have Lu Zhaoxi, its new CEO starting on May 10, as head and Alibaba's different business division leaders as members, Shao said.

The effort came after the company was removed from the United States' yearly list of the world's most "notorious markets" last year because of its improvement in reducing counterfeits.

"I am afraid that something we notice but don't prevent today will eventually grow into a cancer for a company's future development. ... That's why I think I will surely regret it if we don't do well in fighting counterfeits," Ma Yun, Alibaba's chairman, said at his last news conference before he officially steps down as CEO on May 10.

About 2,000 employees at Alibaba are responsible for protecting intellectual property rights.

Last year, Alibaba dealt with 94 million items that infringed copyrights and handed out punishment 900,000 times, it said.

In the first three months of this year, China's public security organs have dealt with 3,747 counterfeit cases, which involved a total value of 24.2 billion yuan ($3.91 billion), said Meng Qingfeng, head of the Economic Crime Investigation Department of the Ministry of Public Security.

In December, a report from the United States Trade Representative said that Taobao, owned by Alibaba, "has worked with rights holders to significantly decrease the listing of infringing products for sale through its website, and has committed to continue working to streamline its complaint procedures to further reduce listings of counterfeit products".

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