The intention of the Applicant, Alibaba Group Holding Limited (hereinafter referred to as “Alibaba” or “Applicant”), in filing this .Alipay application is to proactively protect the ownership of its “Alipay” trademark at the Internet Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) name space, and to provide a trusted, hierarchical and intuitive namespace for businesses and consumers that use Applicant’s broad range of online e-commerce, trade, and payment services.
In addition to this ASCII application for the .Alipay string, the applicant will also be filling three other gTLD strings, namely “.Alibaba”, “.Taobao”, and “.Tmall”. These four applied-for strings consist of core business competency of Applicant and represent the ultimate and reputable brand value in the Internet marketplace. All four applications submitted by Applicant are considered to be critically important to Applicant’s existing and future businesses.
Applicant and the “Alipay” brand
The brand “Alibaba” is transliterated from the Chinese brand: “阿里巴巴” which was founded in Hangzhou, China, by the Applicant in about 1999. Applicant is a privately held holding company registered in Cayman Islands and established in 1999 by Mr. Jack MA (as known as MA Yun in Chinese), a pioneer who has aspired to help make the Internet accessible, trustworthy and beneficial for all Chinese as well as for everyone in the world. As of today, Alibaba, through the operation by its subsidiaries and affiliates (together referred to as “Alibaba Group”), reach Internet users in more than 240 countries and regions, and have more than 25,000 employees in some 70 cities in Greater China, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. Alibaba Group has promoted it various “Alibaba” trademark, namely: “Alibaba Group”, “Alibaba.com”, “Alibaba.com Global Trade Starts Here”, “Alibaba Cloud Computing” extensively in relation to its businesses.
The following businesses are wholly owned or affiliated with Alibaba Group:
Alibaba.com Limited (hereinafter referred to as “Alibaba.com”) (HKSE: 1688.HK; www.alibaba.com, www.1688.com and www.aliexpress.com) – a publicly listed company at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in relation to e-commerce businesses
Taobao Marketplace (www.taobao.com) - consumer-to-consumer (C2C) online shopping platform. Applicant is also applying for a .taobao gTLD for brand protection purpose.
Tmall (www.tmall.com) - business-to-consumer (B2C) online retail marketplace for branded products. Applicant is also applying for a .tmall gTLD for brand protection purpose.
eTao (www.etao.com) – a search engine designed for online shoppers
Juhuasuan (www.juhuasuan.com) - the most comprehensive group shopping platform in China
Alibaba Cloud Computing (www.aliyun.com) - advanced data-centric cloud computing services platform
China Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com.cn) - one of China’s leading internet portals
Alipay (www.alipay.com) - third-party online payment platform. Applicant is also applying for a .alipay gTLD for brand protection purpose.
Among the companies listed above, Alibaba.com (HKSE: 1688.HK) is the flagship company of Alibaba Group and is the global leader in e-commerce businesses. Through the operation by its affiliates, Alibaba.com makes it easy for millions of buyers and suppliers around the world to do business online through three marketplaces: a global trade platform (www.alibaba.com) for importers and exporters; a Chinese platform (www.1688.com) for domestic trade in China; and a transaction-based wholesale platform (www.aliexpress.com) geared for smaller buyers seeking fast shipment of small quantities of goods. Together, these marketplaces form a community of more than 76 million registered users in more than 240 countries and regions as at 31 December 2011.
As part of its strategy to transition into a holistic platform where small companies can build and manage their online businesses easily, Alibaba.com also offers Chinese traders a wide array of business management software and Internet infrastructure services through its subsidiaries and affiliates, including but not limited to, HiChina ZhiCheng Technology Ltd., an ICANN accredited domain name registrar. Alibaba.com also owns Vendio Services, Inc. and Auctiva Corporation, the leading service providers of third-party e-commerce solutions for online merchants in the United States.
The “Alipay” brand was founded in about October 2003 as an online payment service provider for shoppers at the www.taobao.com marketplace.
Launched in 2004, Alipay platform (www.alipay.com) is Chinaʹs leading third-party online payment solution with nearly half of the share of the country’s third-party online payment market according to Q4 2011 and FY2011 Core Data on China’s Third-Party Online Payment Market: iResearch Consulting Group. It had more than 650 million registered accounts as of December 2011. On November 11, 2011, Alipay set a record for the highest daily number of transactions, facilitating 33.69 million transactions during the 24-hour period. Alipay platform is currently operated by Alipay.com Co., Ltd. (“Alipay”) which is an affiliate and independently-run company of Alibaba Group.
As the preferred online payment tool of Internet merchants in China, Alipay provides an escrow payment service that reduces transaction risk for online consumers. Alipay was a key catalyst in the growth of the online retail market in China from RMB1 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) in 2003 to RMB248 billion in GMV in 2009 according to iResearch China Internet Market Annual Review Report 2009: iResearch Consulting Group.
With the rapid development in term of the popularity of online shopping and e-commerce in China, and strong demand of trustworthy, user-friendly, and reliable online payment method for the Chinese Internet users, Alipay has become the most preferred and popular online payment method in China with more than 500,000 external merchants ranging from and not limited by, online retail, virtual gaming, digital communications, commercial services, utilities payment, etc. Alipay partners with more than 100 Chinese banks and financial institutions, including 19 leading national banks, as well as other leading International payment service provider such as Visa and MasterCard. Alipay currently supports transaction in 12 major foreign currencies.
In May 2011, Alipay obtained a license to operate in China from the People’s Bank of China following the restructuring of Alipay. Alipay was the first third-party payments platform to have granted with such a license, and such license has enabled Alipay to continue serving Taobao and its other customers in China.
Alibaba has secured trademark rights for the mark “Alipay” internationally in about 72 countries.
Potential Business Models
Applicant is still analyzing potential use options on the type of .Alipay domain names that will be permitted to be registered and by whom. The current approach is to initially allow only a limited number of Corporate Internal Users (CIU) to apply ⁄ register limited number of second level .Alipay domain names. Besides Alibaba Group, a CIU may be a representative of an entity (registrant) and the entity is wholly-owned or affiliated with Alipay. This conservative approach shall meet the trademark protection purpose, and minimize potential technological, marketing and operational risks. Such restricted approach will be reviewed at the regular basis and subject to change depending upon a range of external factors. A consultative process with ICANN and relevant stakeholder shall take place prior to determination of any change of this approach. Most likely, Applicant will not make any such determination until after the first three years of operation.