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The US Trade Representative has said it is “increasingly concerned” about Alibaba Group’s efforts to remove counterfeit products from its website but has stopped short of listing the company on its 2015 notorious markets review group.
Published on Thursday, December 17, the USTR’s “2015 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets” noted that right owners have complained that the e-commerce retailer’s enforcement programme is “too slow, difficult to use and lacks transparency”.
The review is a rundown of markets, both online and physical, which allegedly facilitate “copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting” that harm US businesses.
“USTR does not re-list Taobao or Alibaba at this time but it encourages the company to enhance cooperation with all stakeholders to address ongoing complaints,” the report said.
The USTR recommends that Alibaba simplifies complaint procedures and reduce the amount of time afforded to counterfeiters to remove infringing products on the Taobao website.
Alibaba and Taobao, an online shopping website operated by Alibaba, first appeared on the USTR’s radar in 2008, but were removed from the notorious markets list in 2012 after demonstrating attempts to halt the sale and distribution of counterfeit products on the platform.
Despite these improvements, Alibaba is embroiled in a counterfeit dispute with Kering, the parent company of luxury brands including Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Kering has claimed that Alibaba is “facilitating” the sale of fake goods.
In August, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Kering’s injunction request against several users allegedly selling counterfeit products.
An Alibaba spokesman told news website Reuters that “counterfeiting is an issue that all global e-commerce companies face, and we are doing all we can to address and fight it. We will continue to work with brands, governments and our sellers to maintain the integrity of our marketplaces.”
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), a critic of Alibaba’s intellectual property policies, welcomed the report.
Juanita Duggan, chief executive of AAFA, said: “The US government sent a strong warning to Alibaba today—what it said it was, clean up your sites, show us the results, and do it soon.
US Trade Representative; Alibaba Group; counterfeiting; piracy; AAFA