FEATURE: Alibaba Refuses Mediation with Kering
Alibaba has made headlines again in an ongoing dispute involving counterfeit goods. Last May the behemoth Chinese e-commerce giant was targeted in a counterfeit lawsuit by Kering Group, the owner of luxury fashion brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Kering Group’s allegations stemmed from Alibaba’s profiting from sales of counterfeit goods.
In recent news, the luxury brands included in the case have now asked a US judge to be relieved of the obligation to mediate deeming it useless after Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma said he would “rather lose than settle.” Kering first sued the company back in 2014 but ultimately dropped the case after both companies reached a settlement and discussed a plan to battle counterfeiters.
Kering was greatly troubled after hearing Ma’s blunt statement particularly because Alibaba requested the judge’s mediation in the first place. Kerings’ defense sent a letter to the court commenting: “It leaves the impression…that Alibaba’s request for mediation was not made in good faith, but rather as a tactic to delay this case and to force Plaintiff’s to expend resources spinning their wheels in an expensive and time-consuming mediation.”
Bob Christie, Alibaba spokesman, said that Ma’s comment was stated ahead of Kering’s agreement on Alilbaba’s proposal to mediate: “If they want to return to the path of litigation, instead of mediation, we will vigorously defend our legal rights and reputation,” he said.
In the midst of these discussions, Alibaba Group Holdings stock has fallen—Tuesday reports indicated the company’s stock had dropped 1.08% to $80.48 in late morning trading. Meanwhile, Judge Kevin Castel has urged both parties to continue with mediation, but that has yet to begin.by