Alibaba sues sellers over fake watches in China first

E-commerce platform Alibaba has sued two sellers offering fake Swarovski watches on online marketplace Taobao. This marks the first time a legal action has been initiated against fake products by an e-commerce platform in China.

Alibaba indicated that the measure is one of many more planned by the e-commerce giant in an effort to protect brands.

Zheng Junfang, chief platform governance officer of Alibaba Group said in a statement:"We will bring the full force of the law to bear on these counterfeiters so as to deter others from engaging in this crime wherever they are. We want to mete out to counterfeiters the punishment they deserve in order to protect brand owners."

The suit against vendors Liu Huajun and Wang Shenyi claims RMB1.4 million for "violation of contract and goodwill."

According to the company, the governance team detected suspicious sales of fake Swarovski watches and utilised its test-buy programme to buy one of the watches and confirmed with Swarovski that the watches were not genuine. Local police then confiscated more than 125 counterfeit watches, totalling RMB2 million in value. During the raid, a second seller was also found.

Taobao was placed on the notorious markets list by the office of the United States Trade Representative placed last month, stating that rights holders in both the US and abroad "continue to report serious challenges to reducing high levels of counterfeit and pirated goods on Taobao".