Counterfeiting has been a contentious topic in 2016, especially as it relates to China’s most powerful e-Commerce player, Alibaba.
And it looks as though it will be getting more so before it gets less so. According to reports, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) — a trade group representing a host of global brands — has sent an appeal to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) formally requesting that Alibaba and its eCommerce platforms be returned to the agency’s list of Notorious Markets.
The request comest as the U.S. Trade Representative’s office is coming up on its annual announcement of findings on Notorious Markets.
Firms so designated have been found to be “engaging in and facilitating substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting,” including fake goods and pirated content.
Alibaba was far from alone in being called out by the American Apparel & Footwear Association; every year, it submits its recommended additions to the “Notorious Markets” list, and this year was no different. In addition, Alibaba was one of 118 total online and physical marketplaces that allegedly promote the sales of counterfeit merchandise that the association complained about.
Last year, the office declined to place Alibaba on the list but did warn the Chinese conglomerate and its online marketplaces, Tmall and Taobao, that it needed to do more to shut down counterfeits.
Alibaba agreed and has made several very public efforts to shut down the proliferation of fakes on its site but so far has not done much to bring brands around. Brand owners continue to report that Alibaba platforms, particularly Taobao, are used to sell large quantities of counterfeit goods.
“Despite numerous public statements that the company is taking the counterfeit problem seriously, we have yet to see improvements on Alibaba’s platforms,” AAFA President/CEO Rick Helfenbein said in a statement. “USTR removed Alibaba from its list several years ago, on the condition that the company meet specific requirements going forward. Those requirements have not been met, and as a result, American consumers and our members are paying the price.”