AAFA Lodges Counterfeit Complaints Against Alibaba

A screenshot of the Alibaba homepage
A screenshot of the Alibaba homepage from November 2014.
Courtesy Photo

The American Apparel & Footwear Association has ramped up its efforts to combat the sale of counterfeit goods by filing two complaints today against one of the largest e-commerce communities, Alibaba.

Juanita Duggan, AAFA’s president and CEO, filed one complaint with Securities & Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White and another with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, asking for assistance in stopping “the rampant proliferation of counterfeit apparel and footwear on the TaoBao platform of Alibaba,” Duggan said in both filings.

In an address at AAFA’s executive summit in Washington, D.C., last month, Duggan told attendees that the AAFA would address concerns about the counterfeit market, noting that about 80 percent of U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CPB) seizures are fashion-related.

“Alibaba’s TaoBao platform is notorious as one of the biggest platforms for counterfeit goods worldwide,” said Duggan in the complaints. “Our members encounter innumerable counterfeits on TaoBao every day, which result in millions of dollars of lost sales, damage to reputation, legal costs, and exhaustion of internal resources.”

Duggan expressed frustration with the mixed success that some of AAFA’s 1,000-plus members have had in securing the takedown of “a small percentage of infringing products.”

Duggan further stated that the AAFA has been working with representatives of Alibaba to address its concerns — which include lack of enforcement of copyrights and trademarks and a weak punishment system — but Alibaba’s implementation of agreed-upon remedies have been either “sluggish or non-existent.”

A 2014 report by CPB and the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations indicated that apparel and accessories continue to be the most-seized counterfeit commodities and that China remains the primary source of counterfeit and pirated goods seized by U.S. agencies.