China: U.S. lacks evidence to sanction Taobao

BEIJING — U.S. authorities acted irresponsibly when they labeled Alibaba Group’s e-commerce sites last month as “notorious markets” for selling pirated and counterfeit goods, says China’s Ministry of Commerce.

“Since there is no conclusive evidence, there is no detailed analysis, this is very irresponsible and not objective,” said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang during a Wednesday media briefing.

In December, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its latest list of the world’s “notorious markets” for piracy and counterfeit offenders. Alibaba’s Taobao online retail sites still sell pirated and counterfeit goods, even as the companies have made “significant efforts” to address the problem, according to the report.
Based in Hangzhou, China, Alibaba Group includes online business to business portals for trade with Chinese companies, retail and payment platforms, shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing services
 
China’s Ministry of Commerce was deeply unsatisfied with USTR’s notorious markets list, noting that the report did not cite concrete evidence, but relied on claims made from third-parties. In mentioning Taobao, the USTR’s list states that “Several commenters reported that pirated and counterfeit goods continue to be widely available on China-based Taobao.”
 
U.S. authorities should take a more objective approach to China’s intellectual property protection efforts, in order to avoid having a negative impact on Chinese businesses, Shen said. The U.S. states that its notorious markets list does not reflect any finding of legal violation, but we believe this wording does not make them free of responsibility, he added.

Last month, Alibaba Group said in response to the USTR’s report that the company is committed to protecting intellectual property rights. Alibaba noted that the company works with many well-known brands to sell genuine products.