China-based Alibaba Group Holding was put back on the list of an U.S. agency of global marketplaces that are known to have counterfeits and pirated goods.
The annual list of the U.S. Trade Representative was released this week and highlights online and physical markets notorious for their fakes. It mentions specifically Alibaba’s Taobao platform, which is a shopping platform that is described as flea market like.
Taobao has not been named on the list for a number of years, but the list cited complaints of rights holders regarding trying to remove counterfeit products from that site.
The agency added that the Taobao.com platform of e-commerce was of concern due to its large volume of allegedly pirated and counterfeit goods that are available for purchase and the challenges that right holders have experienced in trying to removes as well as prevent their illicit sales.
Alibaba announced its disappointment of being added to the list and questioned if it might be influenced by the political climate currently taking place in the U.S.
Michael Evans the Alibaba Group president said the company is much more advanced and effective in the protection of intellectual rights that when it was taken off the list by the USTR over four years ago.
Evans added that the decision ignored the work that Alibaba has done in protecting the IP rights holders as well as in assisting law enforcement in bringing to justice counterfeiters.
The list of notorious markets names as well as shames the companies and the countries that allegedly are not taking the steps to stop most counterfeiters. It does not set official policy of the U.S.
However, the list’s prominence brings significant pressure to the international negotiations of Washington as well as interactions amongst companies and lawmakers in the U.S. often cite the markets that appear on the list.
Alibaba’s Taobao was taken off the list during 2012, as the U.S. agency cited the improvement made by the company in monitoring the number of counterfeit goods on its platform.
However, the agency said that last year it warned Taobao it was becoming more and more concerned over counterfeits and would look to see if steps were being taken by Alibaba to address the issue.
In the most recent report just released, the USTR says that attempts made to report rights infringement to Alibaba have been consistently refused and requests for taking off items from the site are often denied without any guidance over how to see results.