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Alibaba hopes visual codes will fight counterfeit goods

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As you may have heard, Alibaba has a problem with counterfeit goods among its merchants -- you may not know if that Gucci bag is fake until it's too late. The Chinese online shopping giant may have a way to fight these bogus wares, though. It's implementing Visualead's Dotless Visual Code to help you verify your purchases as soon as you get them home. All you do is scan the QR-like symbol using Alibaba's Taobao app, and it'll tell you if you bought the real deal. These codes only work once and require specially developed scanning software, so scammers can't simply rehash codes or write apps that claim their products are legit.

The visual codes will first show up on Ferrero's chocolates and L'Oreal's cosmetics, but the hope is that they'll be widespread enough that you can rely on them to prove that you bought legit merchandise. The real question is whether or not this measure will really silence counterfeiters. Unless Alibaba cracks down on merchants that don't use these codes, there's a good chance that fakes will continue to sell. After all, some shoppers don't mind buying knockoffs if it means getting a discount.

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