ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - Alibaba said on Thursday it still wanted to work with companies fighting counterfeit brand-name products, a week after the Chinese online shopping platform was kicked out of an industry coalition due to long-standing accusations that it has turned a blind eye to counterfeits.
Alibaba has been dogged for years by critics who called its online shopping platforms conduits for counterfeiters. Critics say it has not done nearly enough to stop the problem.
At least three members of the Washington-based International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, including board member Tiffany & Co (TIF.N), quit the group in protest and others threatened to leave after Alibaba was admitted as a member in April. Last week the group suspended Alibaba’s membership.
“We see no other path than working closely with you, the brands,” Alibaba Group Holdings President Michael Evans said on Thursday at a coalition meeting in Orlando. The IACC is made up of brand manufacturers, the lawyers who represent them and investigators who help ferret out counterfeit goods.
Alibaba provided the text of his speech. The IACC declined to allow a Reuters reporter into the gathering.
An IACC member who attended the speech told Reuters that Evans received a less-than-warm welcome and tepid applause from the group, which is split over Alibaba’s membership.
Alibaba shopping sites contain a billion product listings, and the company says it is uniquely positioned to take on the global trade in fake goods which it estimates is a $500 billion market.
“I think people are very reluctant to hear what he had to say,” said member Chris Barnes of Market Watch, a company the helps brands fight counterfeits. “I do think it’s letting the wolf in the hen house a little, but there has to be some collaboration.”
Evans spoke in place of Executive Chairman Jack Ma, who changed his plans after the IACC suspended a new category in which Alibaba was admitted, effectively terminating its membership.
IACC board chair Dawn Atlas told Reuters she could not comment on the Alibaba controversy. She is the vice president of enforcement and assistant general counsel for Calvin Klein, Inc., according to the IACC website.
Reporting By Barbara Liston in Orlando, editing by Peter Henderson and David Gregorio