The US government has sent a strong warning to Chinese online giant Alibaba to clean up its act on counterfeits after becoming increasingly concerned that its enforcement programme is "too slow, difficult to use, and lacks transparency". 

Although the US Trade Representative (USTR) has not added Alibaba or e-commerce provider Taobao to its list of so-called "notorious markets" known for piracy and counterfeiting, it "encourages the company to enhance cooperation with all stakeholders to address ongoing complaints". 

The just-released Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets report is a precursor to the full Special 301 Report which is due out at the end of April. 

Given the size and the scale of Alibaba's platforms, the USTR says stronger and more efficient systems for addressing rights holders' concerns should be undertaken without delay. These steps, it adds, should include simplifying Taobao's processes for rights holders to register and request enforcement action; making Taobao's good faith takedown procedures generally available; and reducing Taobao's timelines for takedowns and issuing penalties for counterfeit sellers. 

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which notes that fashion products are the number one seized items for counterfeits by the US Customs and Border Protection agency, has repeatedly called for Alibaba to come up with a new system to take down counterfeits. 

Call for Alibaba to address anti-counterfeiting

"We hope Alibaba responds to this report and uses its position as one of the largest technology companies in the world to lead the way and eradicate counterfeits from its sites," says Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of AAFA. "We hope Alibaba chooses to become a market of integrity."

She adds: "The Notorious Markets report shines a light on the seriousness of the counterfeit problem worldwide."

Click here to view the Review of Notorious Markets report.