Alibaba labels USTR’s notorious markets list a ‘flawed, biased and politicized process’ after Taobao inclusion

Taobao placed on the 'notorious markets' list by USTR again

Alibaba has taken issue with its marketplace Taobao being included in the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) ‘notorious markets’ list, which highlights places in which counterfeit goods are traded.

It’s been on the list before, and was included last year, but after the Chinese internet giant has spent considerable investment into innovation and policing counterfeit goods and IP protection, its inclusion has been met with anger.

Alibaba has even issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the case made by the USTR for including Alibaba in the list.

In a statement on Alizila, Alibaba Group president Michael Evans said: “It’s clear that no matter how much action we take and progress we make, the USTR is not actually interested in seeing tangible results. Therefore, our inclusion on its list is not an accurate representation of Alibaba’s results in protecting brands and IP, and we have no other choice but to conclude that this is a deeply flawed, biased and politicized process.”

Speaking with The Drum earlier this year, Alibaba detailed its new programmes that had been set up, that used big data and technology to help law enforcers track down IP infringers on its website.

In a report issued last year, it said in 2016 the proactive cases were 26 times higher than the number of reactive cases, whereas in 2015 the number was just eight times higher.

In Evans’ statement, he said 1,000 arrests had been made so far, as well as the closure of nearly 1,000 offline manufacturing and distribution locations.

As well as bolstering its own technology, the company also tried to engage the community of brands, via the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), which was met with a level of resistance from some brands.

Evans added: “In the face of all of the results Alibaba has delivered both on its own, as well as through collaboration, with brands, associations, regulators and law enforcement, the choice made today by the USTR to disregard our progress is entirely counterproductive. The deep irony is that, while the Notorious Markets process is supposed to be a tool to incentivize IP enforcement, today’s decision removes that incentive by proving that USTR’s decisions are no longer driven by the strength of a company’s IP protection system. Nevertheless, this will not deter Alibaba from our commitment as the leading protector of intellectual property worldwide.”

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