Alibaba Launches Korea Pavilion to Bring Authentic Goods to Chinese Consumers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Just two days after Kering luxury brands filed a lawsuit against Alibaba (BABA) for selling counterfeit goods, the Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba is rolling out a new platform that will promote genuine Korean goods.

The Korea Pavilion is hosted on Alibaba's Tmall marketplace and will feature Korean goods as well as travel and cultural information. Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma and Choi Kyunghwan, Deputy Prime Minister of Korea, unveiled the new platform Monday along with a new program that will send 100 Korean college graduates to intern at Alibaba's headquarters.

"The Korea Pavilion is Alibaba Group's first official country pavilion and we will continue to work with governments of other countries to launch similar pavilions in the future in order to satisfy the needs of our Chinese consumers," Ma said at the opening ceremony in Seoul.

The timing of this new platform immediately follows the filing of Paris-based Kering's lawsuit, which claims Alibaba knowingly makes it possible for counterfeit goods to be sold in its marketplaces.

"We continue to work in partnership with numerous brands to help them protect their intellectual property, and we have a strong track record of doing so," an Alibaba spokesperson said. "Unfortunately, Kering Group has chosen the path of wasteful litigation instead of the path of constructive cooperation. We believe this complaint has no basis and we will fight it vigorously."

Alibaba has encountered much criticism regarding counterfeit goods as well as a practice called brushing in which sellers use fake customers to inflate sales numbers, improperly improving their online status.

The company has been making a strong effort to turn around its reputation and rid itself of counterfeit, and the Korea Pavilion is only the most recent effort.

In March, Alibaba dismissed Wang Yulei, the head of Tmall from his role and reassigned him elsewhere. The company appointed Jeff Zhang, former president of Taobao, to head an umbrella unit for Taobao, Tmall, and Juhuasuan, Alibaba's group buying platform.

The next day Tmall announced new regulations that allow merchants to join only on an invitation basis. Tmall will also adopt a new anti-cheating mechanism to counter brushing.

Alibaba has also been stepping up its effort to bring in products from overseas, with an initiative called E-Marco Polo that will bring in goods from Italy, for example. The company will also likely expand on the Korea Pavilion and add platforms for other countries.

However, with large companies like Kering on its back, Alibaba still has a ways to go.

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