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Luxury fashion house Gucci has dropped out of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, less than a month after Michael Kors also left the group it has emerged.
 
The IACC is was set up in 1979 with the aim of tackling counterfeiting and piracy across a number of industries including fashion, luxury goods and entertainment.
This recent double departure is not without reason: in April, Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, was announced as a keynote speaker of the coalition Spring conference having become a General Member of the IACC.
As China’s largest e-commerce group, Alibaba has previously been criticised for not doing enough to tackle the sale of counterfeits on its online platforms. However, the IACC’s General Membership is a new category that was set up to include intermediary companies such as Alibaba; its aim is to fight counterfeiting by coming together in a collaborative effort. According to the IACC: “Alibaba’s application for membership was unanimously approved by the IACC’s Board of Directors based on their demonstrated commitment and concrete results through the IACC MarketSafe program.” 
 
Luxury brands such as Michael Kors and Gucci have shown that they are opposed to this decision. In April the WSJ cited a letter written by Lee Sporn, general counsel for Michael Kors, to the IACC, which said: “Alibaba’s strategy has consistently been to provide lip service to supporting brand enforcement efforts, while doing as little as possible to impede the massive flow of counterfeit merchandise on its platforms.” Meanwhile, Gucci already has a fraught relationship with the e-commerce giant: last year Kering, owner of Gucci, filed a case against Alibaba for making it possible for customers to buy counterfeits items from its site. 
 
Amidst this upheaval, and as a new General Member of the IACC, Jack Ma will inevitably have to prove what steps his company is taking to effectively deal with counterfeiting.