Taobao stays on counterfeit blacklist

Taobao has been added to the USTR counterfeit blacklist for the second successive year for selling suspected fake items on its shopping platform.

However, the Chinese e-commerce giant says the listing does not reflect its IP-protection efforts.

Owned by Alibaba Group, it is one of 25 online markets along with 18 physical markets to make the annual USTR (US Trade Representative) list of “the world’s most notorious markets” for selling pirated and counterfeit goods.

Taobao managed to stay off the list from 2012 to 2015, but was included in 2016 and now again for last year.

“A high volume of infringing products reportedly continues to be offered for sale and sold on Taobao.com, and stakeholders continue to report challenges and burdens associated with IP enforcement on the platform,” says the USTR. While the agency acknowledges Alibaba’s efforts to curb the sale of fake products on Taobao, it says the prevalence of infringements is still a challenge.

Alibaba says it has made its IP protection programs easier to use, leading to an 11 per cent increase in registries plus a 25 per cent drop in takedown requests as infringing listings were removed even before reaching its marketplaces.

“In light of all this, it is clear that no matter how much action we take and progress we make, the USTR is not actually interested in seeing tangible results,” says Alibaba Group president Michael Evans.

The USTR says Alibaba’s data does not directly reflect the scope and status of the counterfeiting problem on Taobao, but is “merely suggestive of progress” in its anti-counterfeit efforts. It also says those efforts appear to be more toward addressing the concerns of global brands rather than small and medium businesses.

“It is incumbent upon Alibaba to develop more effective means to address the concerns of the full range of US businesses that continue to find infringing versions of their products for sale on Taobao.com.”

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