Before handing over power-of-attorney to third party brand protection agencies, brand owners need to carry out effective due diligence. It is also worthwhile for them to guard against the tendency of weakening IPR protection by Alibaba and other platforms at the excuse of “malicious” complaints.

In early February, Alibaba announced that it would no longer process IP violation complaints from an IP agency called Hangzhou Wangwei Technology. According to Alibaba, Wangwei has filed thousands of complaints, of which more than 60% since 2015 have ended up being withdrawn after counter-appeals from merchants.

The blocking of Hangzhou Wangwei is part of a wider campaign of Alibaba against the so-called malicious complaints. Alibaba has accused several IP agencies for filing false accusations about the sale of fake goods and intellectual property violations on its online shopping platform, calling for merchants to boycott those agencies. Alibaba claims that 24% of all complaints it receives are deemed “malicious” and “a drain on the group’s efforts to stamp out counterfeits”.

Although these warnings are not aimed at brand owners, which shall not be regarded as a setback in Alibaba’s IPR protection efforts, the action against the “malicious’ agencies may divert the attention of the platforms from IPR protection.

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