Citing its efforts to curb the online sale of counterfeit products in China, Taobao, the country’s largest e-commerce website, has petitioned the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in a bid to be removed from the Washington agency’s “notorious markets” list.
In a Feb. 10 letter to the USTR, Taobao outlined improvements the Internet company has made in monitoring the website for Chinese merchants selling fakes, detailed toughened penalties against merchants deemed to be violating website policies against pirated goods, and cited streamlined procedures by which American companies can complain online about intellectual property rights (IPR) violations, among other actions.
“Taobao has made significant progress over the last several years in ensuring that IP-infringing items are not sold on its web platforms,” the letter states. The company said it removed 63 million IP-infringing product listings in 2011, and employs about 200 people to handle infringement complaints, work with brand owners and monitor product quality.
The letter was filed as part of the public commentary the USTR accepts in its annual Special 301 Review. The review monitors the enactment and enforcement of copyright, patent, and trademark laws throughout the world and results in a report identifying trouble spots.
Taobao has taken issue with its ongoing inclusion inthe USTR’sblacklist of notorious markets where theagency says counterfeits are heavily trafficked. “Taobao does not believe that USTR should continue to designate Taobao as a Notorious Market,” the letter states, due to the company’s extensive efforts to curb the sale of fakes on its website.
Taobao’s sister company, B2B website Alibaba.com, was recently dropped from the list after a drive to stem online piracy. The USTR also removed Baidu after the Chinese search-engine giant promised to stop serving up links to pirated music-download sites.
A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce last month complained that the USTR assembled the list without sufficient investigation, evidence and analysis. The spokesman, Shen Danyang, urged the USTR to “take into account China’s effort for IPR protection and the progress made on it and to make a more comprehensive, more objective, more fair evaluation.”