Alibaba giant has a woeful record on counterfeit goods.


The U.S. Barter Representative endure ages labeled Alibaba’s Taobao a “notorious market” for affected goods, citation affirmation that the e-commerce belvedere is a anchorage for pirates affairs bargain knock-offs. The designation, which carries no amends above reputational damage, affliction to animate Alibaba to apple-pie up its act. Judging from the company’s reaction, that isn’t acceptable to appear soon.

“The USTR’s accommodation leads us to catechism whether the USTR acted based on the absolute facts or was afflicted by the accepted political climate,” Alibaba President Mike Evans said on Dec. 21. CEO Daniel Zhang added that “it wouldn’t appear as a abruptness if we appointment added situations agnate to that of ‘Notorious Markets’ in the future, area protectionism leads to awful acts.”

The affirmation is not on Alibaba’s side. USTR flagged the eBay-like Taobao as “notorious” as aboriginal as 2008, admitting it removed the appellation in 2012. In 2015 a bounded Chinese regulator accused Alibaba of “long-term” and “illegal” practices and publicized a analysis suggesting two-thirds of the clothing, electronics and added appurtenances awash on Taobao were fakes.

The regulator withdrew its allegation afterwards Alibaba denied the accuse and promised changes. But months after the Trademark Working Group, a retail watchdog, alleged Taobao “still the better online belvedere for the auction of affected goods.”

There’s more: A accusation from Kering, the French ancestor aggregation of Gucci replica and added brands, alleges that 37,000 Gucci accoutrements were awash on Taobao in one ages in 2014. Kering added accuse that Taobao allows the auction of “Gucci” bed bedding even admitting Gucci doesn’t accomplish bed sheets, and that the platform’s seek engine uses the Gucci cast after approval while aswell administering users to accessible knockoffs branded Guchi, “Cocci” and the like. Alibaba is battling the suit.

In 2015 USTR said it was “increasingly concerned” with Alibaba and apprenticed it to strengthen procedures for absorption intellectual-property rights. Alibaba says it spends “enormous resources” on this and removed 380 actor doubtable listings endure year because “sales of counterfeits abuse Alibaba as abundant as they do rights owners.” Even so, in October 18 barter groups from about the apple declared in an accessible letter that while Alibaba’s “increased absorption is a acceptable development, we accept apparent little evidence” of advance “on the Alibaba platforms themselves.”

USTR echoed this endure ages in redesignating Taobao “notorious,” adage that “while contempo accomplish set absolute expectations for the future, accepted levels of appear counterfeiting and piracy are unacceptably high.” It aswell cited the case of a “large motor car manufacturer” that believes at atomic 95% of the appurtenances address its brands on Alibaba platforms are counterfeit.

Alibaba architect Jack Ma wrote in these pages endure year that his aggregation “is 100% committed to arch the action adjoin all-around counterfeiting.” But in 2015 he told Forbes annual that Gucci’s prices are “ridiculous” and that those who accomplish their active peddling fakes accept rights too: “If you just say, ‘Take that down,’ it is arbitrary for that guy. We accept to aswell assure these guys, not alone the branded businesses. You accept to affliction about all the people, their rights.”

It’s account apprehensive whether Mr. Ma’s attitude explains why Alibaba, for all its abstruse prowess, has never fought artifice as aggressively as rivals such as eBay. It’s aswell armament for the protectionist politicians Alibaba claims to fear, and who aren’t acceptable to be annoyed with addition “notorious” bang on the wrist.