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CBBC and Alibaba discuss IP protection for UK food and drinks firms

BritCham / CBBC
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On 18 March, the China-Britain Business Council and Alibaba hosted a roundtable on IP protection in Chinese e-commerce at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou. Focusing chiefly on the food and beverage industry, this was the latest in a series CBBC and Alibaba have held under an agreement to improve IP protection for British companies.
CBBC took a delegation of leading British F&B companies to the meeting, including Diageo, Chivas, SAB Miller, Marks & Spencer, Unilever and the British Standards Institute. They were able to discuss IP issues with Alibaba’s senior IP protection team, including the new head of its Marketplace Governance Division, Mr Wang Yan. 
Mr Wang oversaw a successful project with CBBC and British industry in 2015 to prosecute counterfeit engine lubricant producers. He introduced CBBC to his newly reorganised team which is responsible for protecting brands from counterfeiting, and spoke to attendees about the new measures Alibaba are taking to enhance internet security, including the use of big data to identify trends and high-risk areas.
The UK representatives raised some specific concerns in their sector, including the health risks involved in counterfeit consumables, the manufacture of replica packaging which is used for counterfeits outside China, and the huge trade in imports of foods into China through ‘grey market’ channels.
In an encouraging step, Alibaba offered to work with British drinks producers on a project to investigate large-scale counterfeiters of whisky and whisky packaging. CBBC will be following up to explore this offer.
In 2014, CBBC and Alibaba signed a cooperation agreement to promote intellectual property protection in Chinese e-commerce. One and a half years on, CBBC has assisted many UK companies in addressing infringing product listings on Alibaba’s various platforms, including Taobao, 1688.com and AliExpress, using Alibaba’s notice-and-take-down mechanisms. 
CBBC and Alibaba are also working together so that British brands can help establish pre-emptive measures to reduce the number of counterfeits online, and more broadly to improve the business environment for UK brands in China.
To become a stakeholder in CBBC’s strategic IP cooperation with Alibaba in 2016, with the chance to attend future roundtables, please contact CBBC’s IP lead Mick Ryan in Shanghai: Michael.Ryan@cbbc.org.cn.
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