Plagued by complaints of counterfeit goods sold on its various platforms, Alibaba Group is lobbying the U.S. government to remain off a list of “notorious” pirated goods markets. The China-based e-commerce giant sent two formal letters to the United States Trade Representative this month highlighting its efforts to combat the availability of counterfeit items on its websites. In April, Alibaba implemented a new “good-faith takedown mechanism” where established brands can flag counterfeit goods and have them removed without detailed supporting evidence initially.
In 2008, both Alibaba.com and its Taobao marketplace were listed on the USTR’s black market list. Alibaba.com was removed in 2011 and Taobao was removed a year later. The USTR posted the letter from Alibaba as an opportunity for public comment, and multiple entities have urged the government to reinstate Alibaba on the list. Those groups include the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Trademark Working Group (which represents multiple Fortune 500 companies) and ANDEMA, a Spanish counterfeiting association. Paris-based Kering SA, which owns luxury brands Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and others, has filed two lawsuits in the past years accusing Alibaba of failing to prevent counterfeiters from selling products.
In June Alibaba hired Eric Pelletier, who had previously worked for Congress, the White House and General Electric, as the company’s new government affairs chief. Besides authoring the two letters, Pelletier has met with USTR officials to discuss Alibaba’s actions. According to Reuters, Pelletier in his letters wrote, "When you step back and look at our overall efforts to combat illicit activities, our track record is clear. We are certainly not perfect, and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us...we will continue to do everything we can to stop these activities.”