Alibaba Hires Ex-Apple Investigator To Tackle Its Counterfeit Goods Problem

Alibaba has brought in a former counterfeit-battling executive from Apple to battle its own problem of fake goods.

Matthew Bassiur is leaving his current role as Vice President, Deputy Chief Security Officer at Pfizer to take up the position of Vice President, Head of Global Intellectual Property Enforcement at Alibaba in January. That’s a new role “to lead Alibaba Group’s industry-leading anti-counterfeiting efforts,” the company explained in an announcement. Bassiur will report in to newly-hired business lead Michael Evans, a Goldman Sachs veteran.

As Senior Director, Global Security & Counsel for IPR Enforcement at Apple, Bassiur headed up the U.S. company’s investigative program into theft, fraud, leaks, threats and cybercrime. Bassiur, who joined Pfizer four years ago directly after a two-year stint at Apple, formerly taught IP law at Renmin University in Beijing under the Fulbright program. Alibaba described him as having “deep familiarity with China.”

Alibaba this month avoided being named on the U.S. Government’s latest blacklist for fake products, but counterfeit items remain a huge problem for its business. At least in the eyes of brands that are having fake products sold on Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace. As Forbes recently reported, Alibaba has sophisticated software and a 2,000-strong team focused on shutting down shop owners peddling fraudulent goods, but Alibaba does also allow many Chinese sellers to continue to make money from selling fake items, so there’s a compromise. It will be interesting to see how Bassiur’s arrival affects that dynamic going forward.