Alibaba Lobbying To Stay Off The ‘Notorious’ List As Criticism Gets Louder

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Just weeks after the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) urged the U.S. Trade Representative to put Alibaba’s Taobao on the list of “notorious markets,” the Chinese e-commerce giant is lobbying hard to stay off the blacklist. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Alibaba’s government affairs chief Eric Pelletier has sent two letters to the USTR this month.

It is brand owners’ responsibility to deter infringements

In one of the letters, Pelletier refuted AAFA’s criticism. He told the USTR that the Hangzhou-based company had gone above and beyond to deal with the fakes. But he was of the view that it was the primary responsibility of brand owners to police and deter infringements. Pelletier along with an Alibaba lawyer also held a meeting with an inter-agency working group coordinated by the USTR to apprise them of the company’s efforts to remove fake goods.

In May, French luxury goods maker Kering sued Alibaba for failing to curb the sales of counterfeit goods. On Oct. 05, the AAFA renewed pressure on USTR to relist Taobao on the ‘notorious markets’ for sale of counterfeit and pirated goods. Taobao was dropped off the list in 2012 after the company made significant efforts to clean up the site. Relisting would be a big blow to Alibaba, which has been trying hard to assure investors, regulators and consumers that it has dramatically reduced the number of fakes on its sites.

Alibaba itself is a victim of counterfeiting

The USTR is currently formulating its latest list that will be out in the next few months. It had sought public input to help come up with the list. Three industry groups publicly criticized Alibaba, alleging that fake goods remain widespread on its sites. The AAFA said the Chinese company had done little to fight counterfeits. The group added that its members faced “enormous difficulty” working with Alibaba to resolve the counterfeiting issues.

Last week, Alibaba founder Jack Ma said in an interview with Xinhua that Alibaba itself was a victim of counterfeit goods. He said the e-commerce behemoth could lose as many as five customers on sale of one counterfeit product.

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