Intellectual property and e-commerce: Alibaba’s perspective

Author:Jungong Sun
Position:Director of the Alibaba Intellectual Property Research Institute and Vice-President of the Alibaba Group

Since the 1990s, several pioneering global internet companies have emerged. These include giants like the Alibaba Group (Alibaba),, and Since 2013, China has led global rankings for the volume of online retail transactions. In 2016, four Chinese online retailers – Alibaba,, Xiaomi, and – ranked among the top ten global e-commerce companies. With a market share of 26.6 percent, Alibaba topped global rankings for that year.

Founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, China’s online business pioneer, and his associates, the Alibaba Group now employs more than 70,000 people around the world and has more than 70 offices in Greater China, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the USA. The Alibaba Group has since developed leading businesses in consumer e-commerce, online payment, business-to-business (B2B) marketplaces and cloud computing. More recently it has expanded into a range of new areas, including mobile apps, mobile operating systems and Internet TV. Alibaba’s mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere.

Alibaba spearheads a new model for intellectual property protection

The protection of intellectual property (IP) rights in today’s innovation-driven and increasingly knowledge-based global economy is an important consideration for policymakers and businesses around the world. IP protection has also become a central concern for online retailers, including the Alibaba Group which has had IP protection in its sights since it began operating.

"The Alibaba model for IP governance in e-commerce seeks to protect IP rights by integrating technology, business models and the law.

Jungong Sun, Vice-President of the Alibaba Group

In an attempt to tackle the proliferation of counterfeit products more effectively, and the growing number of related complaints, many on-line retailers have set about building user-friendly, internal governance systems that support the protection of IP and their reputation as socially responsible corporate citizens. The Alibaba Group, for example, has, through experimentation, pioneered the development of an ever-more sophisticated and effective IP protection system. Using advanced computing technologies and big data, Alibaba’s Platform Governance Department has crafted and rolled out an effective system for spotting and disciplining offers involving counterfeit goods on its platforms. Alibaba’s governance model is built around proactive monitoring and an effective IP rights infringement...

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