Taobao Links Up With Another U.S. IP Advocacy Group

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The political and industry savvy of China’s big online players continues to impress. From the time that the video and audio file sharing sites began licensing music, films and television programs, to Baidu’s various content deals, things have come a really long way in a very short period of time. For its part, Taobao inked a cooperation agreement with the powerful Motion Picture Association earlier this month, promising to work with the studios to fight copyright piracy, and now the e-commerce platform has signed an MOU with one of the better known anti-counterfeiting groups., China’s largest consumer shopping platform, said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition to curb the manufacture and sales of counterfeit goods.

IACC is a Washington-based nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce the volume of counterfeit goods sold online by signing agreements with e-commerce websites. (Shanghai Daily)

Although I used to attend some of their conferences, I haven’t had any direct contact with IACC for years. As I recall, it is a solid group that does good advocacy work. It is not in the same league as MPAA in terms of sheer political power, but it has a very good profile in IP circles, and particularly in D.C. where it is headquartered.

This kind of partnering up is really smart. Taobao can take advantage of the valuable network of contacts via these groups. Moreover, it can let these groups educate them not only on new IP developments in different countries, but also how to successfully navigate the corridors of power in places like D.C. I assume Taobao already sends representatives and in-house legal folks to IACC events and has used these conferences to learn how other e-commerce companies are solving their IP problems.

Although Chinese companies like Taobao and Baidu are not engaged in significant outward investment in places like the U.S., this type of model, partnering with strong, politically connected organizations, should be emulated as much as possible by other Chinese firms moving overseas. Doing so will allow them to avoid a lot of mistakes and wasted resources.

2 responses on “Taobao Links Up With Another U.S. IP Advocacy Group

  1. Chris

    Stan, less than impressed with Taobao’s commitment to wipe counterfeits from its sites. Search any major foreign brand on Taobao and you will find top rankings lead directly to counterfeiters. These stores have been there for years and no effort has been made to remove them or curb their activities. The rest is just PR fluff from Jack Ma.

    1. Stan Post author

      Problems still exist, yes. Doesn’t negate the wisdom of their current “partner” strategy, of course, but these are separate issues. Where these might overlap, though, is what happens down the line when the IACC, MPA and other partners take a look at Taobao and see how it’s doing to further clean up its act? Eventually, they will complain, and if Taobao does not address the problems, these partnerships might blow up, which would be a PR nightmare.

      Hitching your wagon to these guys isn’t just good PR for Taobao. It also means they have to live up to commitments, knowing that these folks are watching.