Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, 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. 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 U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called Taobao “one of the single largest online sources of counterfeits. U.S. software, clothing and shoe manufacturers are urging United States Trade Representative to keep Taobao on the annual list …
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.” Taobao.com 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. 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.
But the U.S. Business Software Alliance, whose members include Microsoft and Adobe, said it was not ready to take Taobao off the hook. The software group said there is still the case that the sale of unauthorized software remain extremely popular and ubiquitous on the site. 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 American Apparel and Footwear Association, which represents many name-brand manufacturers whose products are routinely counterfeited, took a similar hard line.
China is “greatly concerned and strongly opposed” to the United States’ listing of Taobao.com as a notorious market for piracy. China believes the United States should take into account the efforts made by Chinese companies to fend off piracy. China has intensified efforts to protect intellectual property in the country over the past few years. However, results have been mixed, because enforcement remains weak and inconsistent, and bootleg operators have always been inventive in finding new ways to copy and sell counterfeits and knock-offs.
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