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ACID calls for responsibility in online battle against counterfeit goods

By Mark Hayhurst 28 Jun 2018

ACID has called on online platforms to take responsibility in the battle against counterfeit goods.

Anti Copying In Design, the UK’s leading design and intellectual property campaigning organisation, made their call following the news that Stampin’ Up has filed a lawsuit against Alibaba in a US court for copyright infringement.

Stampin’ Up, which produces and sells decorative rubber stamps and other scrapbooking and paper craft supplies, filed its complaint at the US District Court for the District of Utah Central Division on Wednesday, April 4.

The lawsuit was filed against Alibaba, which operates the e-commerce platform AliExpress, an online shop that allows merchants to sell products across the world.

Dids McDonald (pictured), ACID CEO, said: “Many of our ACID members are continually frustrated by the difficulties they face with online infringements on online platforms such as Alibaba and AliExpress. Taking action can put a huge strain on businesses and, more especially micro businesses, because it is cost and time debilitating made even more difficult in that online platforms differ in their processes for take down, their response time also is inconsistent and there is often resistance. There is growing pressure from Government to create Codes of Practice not only to support IP owners but to hold online platforms to account but this is a monumental task looking at the scale of infringements.

“If this lawsuit is successful it will send a clear and resounding message that online platforms need to take the subject of IP infringement much more seriously. The UK Government, for example, has signed Memoranda of Understanding with many online platforms but the real proof of change is what happens in reality.”

The claim was also brought against AliExpress stores WuYu; KLJUYP; Coohool; Liangshangmei; Yi Wu Yu Yi Co; Gongzhiqian; ZFParty Handcraft; Qianyan; Yiwu Import and Export Trade; Universe Flag; and QLLH. In each instance, Stampin Up accused the defendants of selling “knockoff” versions of its own stamps.

A Stampin’ Up! spokesperson said: “Stampin’ Up! has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the US Federal District Court of Utah against Hong Kong Ltd., the operator of the AliExpress e-commerce platform; in order to stop the sale of counterfeit Stampin’ Up! products on AliExpress by merchants not associated with Stampin’ Up! We are committed to ensuring all of Stampin’ Up!’s art and intellectual property are protected.”

Stampin’ Up alleged that the defendants have been selling rubber stamps with designs identical to its own since September 2017. The infringing products are allegedly being sold at dramatically lower prices than authentic Stampin’ Up products. It is believed that over 90 of the plaintiff’s stamps have been copied and offered for sale by the defendants.

Between November 2017 and March 2018, Stampin’ Up submitted 143 takedown notices to AliExpress.

Dids McDonald added: “To put a scale on the growing threats of online infringement, according to OECD statistics, imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5 per cent of global imports and many of the proceeds going to organised crime. In the UK it is four per cent well above the 2.5 per cent average share of fake goods in world imports so there is even more of an issue nationally.

“Counterfeiters take advantage of our trust in trademarks and brand names to undermine economies and endanger lives. Online platforms have to take their share of responsibility for this global problem.”

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