Jack Ma’s unit blacklisted by USTR

The USTR would continue to monitor Taobao in the coming year.

The Dollar Business Bureau

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba which has spread its tentacles to nearly 190 countries in the world has once again faced ignominy in the US. Analysts believe the recent tepid relations between US and China could be one of the reasons for United States Trade Representative (USTR) to place one of the company’s online platform arm Taobao on the blacklist.

Four years ago Alibaba was blacklisted by US and since then had taken care to ensure that its profile remained clean. Though being blacklisted does not carry any penalties other than a blow to its integrity that the company has been carefully cultivating for years. A spokesman for USTR said Alibaba’s Taobao has been suspected of selling fake goods and indulging in violations of intellectual property rights. USFTR claimed that Alibaba wasn’t doing enough to stem the sale of pirated and fake goods in the luxury and apparel section.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Micheal Evans, the group president said, the news was very disappointing as his company has been taking all the steps to protect IPR than it used to four years ago. He also added that USTR has not taken cognisance of the fact that twice the number of product listings have been removed by Alibaba in 2016, than they were in 2015. Referring to the influence of the political climate on the decision, Evans said, “We question whether the U.S.T.R. acted based on the actual facts or was influenced by the current political climate.”

USTR said, though it recognised the fact that Alibaba has been taking enough steps to curb piracy and intellectual piracy violations, these weren’t enough to satisfy rights holders’ reports and complaints from trademark holders. In a statement released to the media on Thursday, USTR said, “Despite these new procedures, USTR is increasingly concerned by rights holders' reports that Alibaba Group's enforcement program is too slow, difficult to use, and lacks transparency.”

The USTR would continue to monitor Taobao in the coming year to see if there is any improvement with the blacklisting move.


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The Dollar Business Bureau - Dec 22, 2016 12:00 IST