* U.S. movie group praises e-commerce company's progress
* But business software group is less impressed
* Apparel, footwear group also takes hard line
By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON, Sept 26 China's largest e-commerce
company, Alibaba Group, has won support from the U.S.
movie industry in its campaign to persuade the Obama
administration to drop its Taobao.com website from a U.S. list
of "notorious markets" that sell fake goods.
But U.S. software, clothing and shoe manufacturers are
urging USTR to keep Taobao on the annual list, which is expected
to be released in coming months.
Alibaba, which is partly owned by Yahoo!, has spent
the past year reaching out to U.S. groups to address concerns
that landed Taobao website on the U.S. Trade Representative's
office December 2011 list.
The Motion Picture Association of America, a former critic,
is now praising Taobao for "significant progress in 2012 in
addressing counterfeiting on its site."
"We are optimistic that Taobao will continue to take the
steps necessary to make real and permanent reductions in the
availability of counterfeit goods on their e-commerce platform,"
the movie group said in recent comments to USTR.
Taobao Marketplace is an online shopping site, similar to
eBay and Amazon, that brings together buyers and sellers. It is
China's largest consumer-oriented e-commerce platform with
estimated market share of more than 70 percent.
The website has nearly 500 million registered users, with
more than 800 million product listings at any given time. Most
of the users are in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called Taobao "one of the
single largest online sources of counterfeits."
However, the Chinese Commerce Ministry strongly objected to
Taobao's inclusion on the USTR's 2011 notorious markets list. A
ministry spokesman said it did not appear to be based any
"conclusive evidence or detailed analysis."
45.2 MILLION PRODUCTS REMOVED
Now, as the U.S. Trade Representative's office gears up for
its next notorious market report, Alibaba is making sure its
side of the story is heard.
With the help of former USTR General Counsel James
Mendenhall, who served in the Republican administration of
former U.S. President George W. Bush, Alibaba Vice President
John Spelich this month gave the trade office a lengthy account
of steps it has taken to address U.S. companies' concerns.
"Far from being a notorious market, Taobao has put in place
broad-based measures and severe penalties designed to prevent
the sale of infringing goods over its platform," Spelich said in
"Sales of allegedly IPR (Intellectual Property
Rights)-infringing goods over the Taobao platform are minimal
and Taobao neither invites nor condones such activity."
Spelich said Taobao removed 45.2 million products for
alleged copyright or brand violations in the first six months of
2012, including 2.3 million in response to qualified complaints
from rights holders.
Neither the Recording Industry Association of America nor
the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which
represents several U.S. copyright industries, included Taobao in
their nominations this month for USTR's notorious markets list.
But the Business Software Alliance, whose members include
Microsoft and Adode, said it was not ready to
take Taobao off the hook.
"It is still the case that the sale of unauthorized software
and (software) keys remain extremely popular and ubiquitous on
the website," the software group said.
The American Apparel and Footwear Association, which
represents many name-brand manufacturers whose products are
routinely counterfeited, took a similar hard line.
Despite new procedures to send complaints to Taobao, U.S.
clothing and footwear companies say fake goods are still widely
available on the website and that "Taobao is their number one
concern on the Internet," the group said.