Internet

Alibaba taken to court over its fake fire-extinguishing ball

The inventor of a fire-extinguishing ball takes Alibaba and founder Jack Ma to court for allegedly permitting the sale of a fake version of the product.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma made the headlines last month when he took to Weibo (think Twitter but Chinese) with a lengthy post urging the Chinese government to crack down on counterfeiting in the country.

Today, Ma and Alibaba have been taken to court for allegedly allowing the sale of a fake fire-extinguishing ball, reports Bangkok Post.

Fake goods are a huge problem in China: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found the country to be the largest exporter of counterfeit goods. Over 60 percent of the world's fake goods come from China, the Organisation says. Alibaba has long been accused of housing counterfeiters, but Ma claimed last month the company is also a victim of fake goods.

Elide Fire Ball Pro, the Thai manufacturer and vendor of the patented Elide Fire Ball that brought Alibaba to court, says Alibaba and AliExpress sell an AFO-branded knockoff of its fire extinguisher.

The company says this product doesn't actually extinguish fires, which hurts the reputation of the Elide Fire Ball Pro. It estimates damages at almost 3 billion baht (around $86 million).

An Alibaba spokesman told CNET that the company regards "reporting of alleged intellectual property violations seriously" and that it takes "action against sellers which engage in activities that violate its Terms of Use and Intellectual Property Rights Protection Policy."

"We have not been served with the complaint and decline to comment further at this time," added the spokesman.

Updated at April 6, 12:55 a.m. PT: Added response from Alibaba.

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