Alibaba Group has sued two vendors for allegedly selling counterfeit Swarovski watches over Taobao, the Asian e-commerce giant's version of eBay.
Late last month, the office of the United States Trade Representative placed Taobao on its notorious markets list, saying right holders in the United States and internationally "continue to report serious challenges to reducing high levels of counterfeit and pirated goods on Taobao".
Alibaba filed its case at the Shenzhen Longgang People's District Court against Liu Huajun and Wang Shenyi, who sold fake Swarovski watches using the company's Taobao site.
According to Alibaba, the Shenzhen Luohu District police raided the seller previous year and uncovered more than 125 counterfeit Swarovski watches with an overall value of almost RMB 2 million ($290,000). The company then resorted to a "mystery shopping" tactic to test buy the products and then have Swarovski examine their quality, workmanship and packaging to confirm the watches were fake.
Alibaba provided that evidence to the Shenzhen Luohu District police, which raided the suspected Taobao seller on August 10 and confiscated more than 125 counterfeit Swarovski watches, valued at almost RMB 2 million.
Alibaba has struggled consistently with counterfeiters selling fake goods among the hundreds of millions of products listed on its marketplace site.
Its head of global intellectual property enforcement, Matthew Bassiur, said: "We take a holistic and technology-driven approach to IPR-enforcement". The move accords with China's massive crackdown on counterfeits, which sharpens the focus on the responsibility of trading platforms, Ling said.
It's the first time the firm has taken legal action against counterfeiters.
Alibaba had been taken off the list four years ago, but U.S. authorities say the firm's online platform Taobao is being used to sell "high levels" of fake goods. "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".
"Big-data analytics enhance our ability to identify and pursue counterfeiters, and make it increasingly hard for these illicit sellers to hide in the shadows", Alibaba's head of global intellectual property enforcement Matthew Bassiur said.
Previous year also saw Operation Cloud Sword, a joint effort between Alibaba and Chinese law enforcement, which exposed and took down 417 counterfeit production rackets.