Alibaba founder Jack Ma says that there is no chance of a settlement in a trademark infringement lawsuit filed earlier this year by Paris-based Kering SA, which represents upmarket fashion and lifestyle designer brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, accusing China’s largest online commerce company of turning a blind eye to sellers hawking fake merchandise. According to Forbes Ma said: “I would rather lose the case and lose the money, instead of losing our dignity and respect,”
The lawsuit was filed on May 15 in the United States District Court in Manhattan claiming damages and injunctive relief against Alibaba for breach of trademark and violations of Federal anti-racketeering statutes. The plaintiffs alleged that Alibaba and its entities “provide the marketplace advertising and other essential services necessary for counterfeiters to sell their counterfeit products to customers in the United States.”
Ma said that upholding intellectual property rights is simply not a black and white issue. He stressed that Alibaba cares about the rights of both online sellers and brand-name companies. At the same time, he called for help from big brands in the war against “counterfeit terrorists” who sell things like fake iPhones, fake English language certificates and fake handbags on Alibaba’s Taobao platform.
Taobao was named by the US Trade Representative on its list of most “notorious markets” for fake goods until 2012. On Wednesday, Alibaba can look forward to Singles’ Day, the biggest shopping day of the year in China. Last year, Alibaba sales soared past $6 billion and are only expected to be higher this year, which should help to make up the loss in case they do actually lose this lawsuit.