Alibaba is once again in the limelight for the same reason: rampant sales of fake goods on its Taobao platform. The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) has urged the U.S. Trade Representative to bring Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace on the list of “notorious markets” once again. The U.S. apparel trade group has accused Taobao of intellectual property rights violations even though Alibaba had promised to curb the sale of counterfeit goods.
Alibaba unwilling to make serious efforts
Taobao was placed on the list of “notorious markets” in 2011. But it was removed from the list a year later as it moved towards curbing the sale of fakes. On Monday, the AAFA said in a statement that Alibaba had done little to get rid of fakes on its online retail platforms. The group told the USTR that many of its members faced “enormous difficulty” working with Taobao to solve the problem.
The AAFA President and CEO Juanita Duggan said Alibaba’s unwillingness to make serious efforts, coupled with the sheer volume of fake goods on Taobao, forced the group to recommend the relisting of Taobao in the notorious list. Duggan urged the USTR to elevate the pressure on the Hangzhou-based company to make measurable, substantive, and transparent improvements.
Alibaba accuses AAFA of non-cooperation
On the other hand, Alibaba claimed that the U.S. trade group had refused to meet with it “to discuss any outstanding issues.” The Chinese e-commerce behemoth said it was committed to protect intellectual property rights. Alibaba has taken a series of steps, including the use of QR codes, to identify and remove fake listings on its platforms. Earlier this year, the Chinese government criticized Alibaba for not doing enough to eliminate counterfeiting from its e-commerce sites.
In June, French luxury goods maker Kering said it would sue Alibaba for profiting from the sale of fake versions of its branded items such as Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta, Puma, Gucci, and others.