After spending much of this year fighting off complaints about counterfeit goods, as well as accusations of fraud, Alibaba Group is also lobbying the U.S. government in an effort to keep the Chinese e-commerce giant off a list of marketplaces known to sell pirated goods.
Letters available online for public viewing show that Alibaba (BABA) has written to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office twice in the past month to call the office’s attention to the steps taken recently by the company to prevent counterfeit goods from finding their way onto Alibaba’s trading platforms. The letters specifically call attention to a simplified process through which legitimate brands can flag fake goods so they can be removed from Alibaba’s sites.
Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace — which operates similarly to eBay and Amazon marketplaces in the U.S. — was previously listed on the USTR’s “Notorious Markets” list of online and physical markets selling pirated goods from 2008 to 2012 (Alibaba.com was removed from the list a year earlier, in 2011). The USTR removed the sites after confirming that they had taken steps to work with legitimate brands to address counterfeiting complaints.
Now, Alibaba is stepping up its lobbying efforts — led by new government affairs chief Eric Pelletier, formerly of General Electric (GE) — in order to avoid the embarrassment of being reinstated to the USTR list after accusations of selling counterfeit goods online continued this year. Alibaba also recently faced accusations from some investors that the Chinese company could be committing fraud by “faking their numbers” — claims that Alibaba rebutted last month in a conversation with Fortune that saw the company claim its huge numbers are a result of China’s massive population.