Lazada insists 'zero tolerance' for fake items, but can't inspect them one by one

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Lazada insists 'zero tolerance' for fake items, but can't inspect them one by one
James Chang, Lazada Group's chief business officer, shares with Philippine media in Singapore their efforts against counterfeit products on their platform, August 31, 2022
Philstar.com/James Relativo

SINGAPORE — One of the leading Southeast Asian eCommerce giants claims that they "don't tolerate" the sale of counterfeit products on their platform — but they're still working on how to completely purge the online marketplace with inauthentic products.

At the moment, tons of knockoff products flood the platform: from shoes, clothes, electronics, you name it. To grow user trust, Lazada launched LazMall in 2018 which "only sells authentic and and original branded products."

"For us, we do not tolerate counterfeit products. But of course, we cannot buy every product and inspect every product on Lazada platform," James Chang, Lazada Group's chief business officer, said in an interview.

"If we cannot provide the environment that the brand itself can really thrive... then it's very, very difficult for the brands to operate."

Chang insisted that Lazada continues to "invest in greater technology" to help their partner's brand within the platform.

However, he refused to share the amount of investment they used to protect their partners' intellectual property, saying it's "hard to disclose."

"Actually we are very proud to say that LazMall and also Lazada as a whole, our energy and effort towards that [good business environment] is by far the most advanced in Southeast Asia," he added.

"And because of that, many of the brands are joining us in a very exclusive manner."

'40,000 takedowns vs fakes'

E-commerce rivals Lazada and Shopee signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last March 2021 with several global and local brand owners and business associations to build a "stronger industry-wide coordination mechanism" against online counterfeiting and piracy. 

Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) Rowel Barba stated that said MoU establishes a code of practice among online marketplaces, as well as an "efficient notice and takedown procedure" to intensify the fight against fakes sold on the internet.

In 2020, IPOPHL recieved 121 reports and complaints, the highest since the establishment of the IP Rights Enforcement Office in 2013. Ninety-percent of the alleged violations were conducted online.

Lazada Group’s intellectual property rights (IPR) 2021 "Year in Review" however reported way bigger figures when it comes to penalties of said violators.

"[I]n 2020, we have achieved a remarkable result of taking down about 40,000 IPR infringing URLs on Lazada’s platforms in 6 ASEAN countries," said Juhyun Kim, assistant researcher of the Department of Intellectual Property Dispute Resolution of the Global Biz Team.

"This result was achieved thanks to Lazada’s efforts to protect IPR and the use of their IPR protection platform (IPP Platform) which facilitates reporting of IPR related issues."

Unspecified items, men's fashion products top Lazada complaints

Lazada's annual report also boasted of the following results:

  • processing time for nearly 90% of all takedown requests filed through the Intellectual Property Protection platform (72 hours)
  • hours spent in human review of takedown requests (45,850)

The top complained categories were as follows:

  • others (63.6%)
  • men's shoes and clothing (19.1%)
  • watches, sunglasses, jewelry (8.8%)
  • beauty (8.5%)

"If you look at the way we work with all the brands, it's not just the brands on LazMall. Even the brands who is not working with us [LazMall]... We created a portal where anyone can flag any product that they deemed suspiscious and have us do the investigation," continued Chang.

"We set a lot of policies against counterfeits towards the sellers and actually we have penalty points and penalize, and in extreme cases will result to a termination of that seller's ability to sell in Lazada," he added.


"We're quite proud, and I can probably say that no effort is enough. And of course the effort has to be always more, but we do provide the most advanced form of brand protection in Southeast Asia."

It is unclear however if counterfeit products could still be taken down if no one actually flagged said item or seller.

In the Philippines — a third world country facing poverty — many Filipinos order knockoff merchandise on Lazada or Shopee due to cheaper prices. 

With these safeguards in mind, only time will tell if fakes will continue to flourish or die within the online marketplace — the latter supposedly preferred by Lazada not just within LazMall but the whole of their platform.


Editor's note: The trip to Singapore was hosted by Lazada to promote LazMall's Brands Future Forum (BFF) 2022. At no stage does the host organization have a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by Philstar.com following editorial guidelines.

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