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Alibaba fights to remain off US piracy list

October 20, 2015

AlibabaThe e-commerce company is lobbying the US government to “stay off” a “piracy blacklist”.

Fortune reported that Alibaba’s sites “haven’t appeared” on the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) lists “since 2012, and […] wants to keep it that way”, with letters seen online showing that the company “has written” to the USTR “twice in the past month to call the office’s attention to the steps taken recently” against counterfeit products.

The company announced in December last year that it was working to remove counterfeit electronics, and reported later that month that it had spent $160.7 million (€145.7 million) on “tackling counterfeits”. Despite this, it faced a probe in February from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over counterfeit products, with a Chinese regulator claiming Alibaba sites “still offer a vast number of counterfeit goods”, and urging it to “clean up its act”.

In response, the company introduced an English-language reporting system in August “amid complaints that the e-commerce company does little to fight fake goods”. The English-language version of the counterfeit reporting system will “better allow foreign companies to file complaints, so that Alibaba can take down the infringing goods”, and covers the Taobao and Tmall sites, which are “two of China’s largest online retail platforms”.

This platform was cited by the company in its letters, which “specifically call attention” to the simplified process, and the Taobao marketplace had been listed on the USTR’s “Notorious Markets” list from 2008 to 2012, with Alibaba itself removed in 2011. The sites were only removed after the USTR confirmed “that they had taken steps to work with legitimate brands to address counterfeiting complaints”.

The lobbying is being undertaken by new Government Affairs Chief Eric Pelletier, with the aim to “avoid the embarrassment of being reinstated to the USTR list”.

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