WASHINGTON Dec 21 The United States on
Wednesday returned Taobao, China's most popular
consumer-to-consumer shopping website, to its blacklist of
"notorious marketplaces" known for the sale of counterfeit goods
and violations of intellectual property rights.
The move by the U.S. Trade Representative's office against
the online bazaar run by Alibaba Group Co Holding Ltd
followed complaints from U.S. and international trade groups for
apparel and luxury goods that Taobao was not doing enough to
police sales of fakes and pirated products.
Inclusion on the blacklist does not carry any direct
penalties but is a blow to Alibaba's efforts to shed perceptions
its websites are riddled with fakes - a key to gaining a bigger
international customer base and taking market share from global
competitors such as eBay Inc and Amazon.com.
The company expressed disappointment with the move.
Taobao was put on the USTR blacklist in 2011 but removed in
2012 after it made efforts to address concerns of intellectual
property rights holders and committed to cut the number of
pirated and counterfeit goods on its website.
In unveiling its 2016 list, USTR acknowledged that Alibaba
had taken steps to combat piracy, including addressing the
misuse of brand keywords, blurred trademarks in product images
and developing technology to prevent counterfeit sellers from
reopening under new names.
USTR said, however, the current levels of reported
counterfeiting and piracy were "unacceptably high," with such
goods posing a "grave economic threat" to U.S. creative and
innovative industries and posing public health threats in some
"One large motor vehicle manufacturer reported that at least
95 percent of the merchandise bearing its company's brand names
and trademarks found on Alibaba platforms is suspected to be
counterfeit," USTR said.
Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said in a statement
the company was "very disappointed" to be put back on the list
as it was far more advanced in protecting intellectual property
rights than it was four years ago. He added that the decision
ignored Alibaba's work to remove more than twice the number of
product listings this year than in 2015.
"We question whether the USTR acted based on the actual
facts or was influenced by the current political climate," Evans
Alibaba touts Taobao as China's largest online shopping
destination by gross merchandise volume and among the top five
websites in China and top 15 globally.
Alibaba shares fell 0.7 percent on the New York Stock
Exchange to $89.25
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Peter Cooney)