Counterfeiters use the Chinese online image platform Yupoo to promote their illegal offers to buyers. Numerous photo catalogues for fake goods help to initiate sales – and to evade the brand protection measures of online marketplaces.

The Chinese social media network Yupoo remains an immensely popular place for trading in counterfeits. On the image platform, founded in 2005, criminal vendors create openly accessible photo catalogues of illegal goods – for the actual purchase, potential customers are then redirected to other services. Among others, this happens particularly often for fashion fakes, as the trade magazine World Trademark Review (WTR) currently reports.

The popularity of Yupoo is due to the lower risk of content being removed there, according to WTR. This is different from many online marketplaces, which often take stricter anti-counterfeiting measures. As early as 2016, WTR reported on the increasing use of the photo platform by counterfeiters, after marketplaces such as Alibaba or Taobao had intensified their actions at the time.

Unlike online marketplaces, Yupoo does not provide a sales functionality. Instead, counterfeiters use the network to initiate sales with the help of photo catalogues. For the actual transactions, they then redirect potential buyers to other services, for example via the images’ captions; online marketplaces that are linked particularly often include DHGate and Taobao. Such descriptions can already be telltale signs for illegal offers, reports WTR. For example, counterfeiters inform their customers on Yupoo that when buying at the linked online shops, respective brand names would no longer be mentioned – this way, counterfeiters might try to avoid that their offers there are delisted.

Alternatively, counterfeiters can use the contact pages in the Yupoo catalogues to arrange for the illegal sales. There, they e.g. invite interested parties to request transactions via WeChat or WhatsApp. A seller contacted by WTR, for example, provided a bank account in the UK for the money transfer and shared screenshots which allegedly show previous successful transactions in order to demonstrate his alleged reliability. He is also said to have referred to his many years of activity on Yupoo: “If they are a new seller, if you send them money, it isn’t safe. However, we are different because we have sold for over eight years.”

Counterfeiters also use Yupoo for sales via so-called shopping agents in China. This approach was recently explained in a YouTube tutorial shared in a counterfeiting forum: According to this tutorial, shopping agents, who can be commissioned via services such as WeGoBuy and Superbuy, find items via Yupoo, buy them, and organize the shipping to the customer. The video, which has since been removed, also showed that titles of Yupoo images can contain coded information on prices for goods.

The use of Yupoo by counterfeiters seems widespread. For example, links to Taobao and Yupoo are among the most shared sources for fakes on FashionReps, one of the world’s largest forums for counterfeits, reports WTR. Also, Google search queries often list counterfeit catalogues on Yupoo on the first page of search results. However, Yupoo argues that the photo platform is not responsible for the sale of fakes, as the products are not traded via the platform. Upon inquiry by WTR, though, Yupoo informed that trademark-infringing content can be reported via a form. This form should be submitted together with further documents that prove ownership of the trademark rights; preferably in Chinese. Meanwhile, WTR concludes that there has been no decrease in illegal activity on Yupoo since its research in 2016.

Source: World Trademark Review