‘Memorandum of understanding (MOU)’ is one of the most boring (and wordy) ways of describing an official agreement between two parties, so you might be forgiven if you stop reading whenever you see those words.
But one recent deal may buck this trend. Signed in January, the MOU between Alibaba Group and Microsoft could prove to be one to watch from an intellectual property viewpoint. The companies have pledged to work together to tackle counterfeit versions of Microsoft’s products sold across Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, fast becoming global powerhouses.
The deal is interesting because, while it is not the first that Alibaba has signed with a brand owner (eg, Louis Vuitton), it reinforces that Chinese corporations are stepping up their efforts to combat counterfeiting, a problem that China has historically been renowned for. When you consider the government is also seeking to crack down on the sale of fakes online, China is slowly becoming less of a scary place for companies to do business and protect their brands.
Who knows what results the MOU will yield, or how its results will be measured, but one thing is for sure: when a big hitter like Microsoft signs this type of deal, it arguably carries a certain level of significance. As you will find out in this issue’s cover story, the agreement is worth reading about.
Finally, we should say that this issue will be the last one published in a PDF format, as in March we are switching to a ‘digital first’ strategy. Although until now we have provided access to each month’s content in both PDF and online formats, we will now produce news and analysis only on our website, trademarksandbrandsonline.com, before emailing it to you in a weekly newsletter. The newsletters will include the best content from the previous seven days, and the one in the final week of each month will provide a round-up of the most interesting content.
Ed Conlon, Group Editor
MOU, Alibaba Group, Louis Vuitton, Microsoft, anti-counterfeiting