Washington DC
11 October 2016
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Alibaba a “notorious market” says AAFA

Alibaba should be listed as a ‘notorious market’, according to a joint letter from member companies of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).

The letter, addressed to Probir Mehta, the US trade representative (USTR) for innovation and intellectual property last week, asks that Alibaba and its constituent platforms, including Taobao, be listed as a ‘notorious market’ in the USTR’s 2016 Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets.

In the letter, the AAFA argued: “Counterfeits remain rampant on Taobao and are regularly found on other Alibaba sites.”

It specified: “In early 2015, a Chinese government agency — State Administration for Industry and Commerce — found that 67 percent of the goods purchased on Taobao were counterfeit.”

The letter also specified that of the brands on Taobao monitored by the AAFA, about half appeared to include counterfeits.

Further, it said: “Any review of Taobao on a daily basis will find listings for dozens of AAFA member brands at absurdly low price — a strong indication that such merchandise is counterfeit.”

The letter went on: “Given the high level of counterfeits that remain on Taobao as well as the lack of progress on specific benchmarks over the past four years, we recommend that Alibaba and its associated platforms be listed on the report and, like last year, be a focus of particular attention.”

“This is especially important given the sheer size of the Alibaba network, which continues to grow and proliferate counterfeiters to a large population globally.”

Alibaba, which has also submitted its comments to the USTR said in an emailed statement: "More than 100,000 brands have businesses on Alibaba’s platforms - a testament to our success, as well as the trust companies and consumers have in our marketplaces."

"We routinely collaborate with brands, associations and regulators to maintain the integrity of our marketplaces. Our recent USTR submission describes our steadfast efforts to fight counterfeiters online and the sources of such production offline. It also reflects our very strong commitment towards intellectual property rights protection."

Taobao was previously listed on the notorious markets report, but was delisted in 2012 while being urged by the USTR to “further streamline procedures for submitting and responding to notifications to decrease the time required for taking down listings of counterfeit and pirated goods and continue its efforts to worth with and achieve a satisfactory outcome with US rights holders and industry associations”.

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