The huge Chinese e-commerce company, however, has made great strides in eliminating such items from its sites during the past year, especially in recent months, after its IPO in the U.S. But not everyone is happy with Alibaba’s cleanup efforts yet.
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The counterfeit problem has improved significantly in recent months, said David Tognotti, general counsel, general manager and vice president of operations at Monster Inc., a consumer-electronics manufacturer.
“When I go to Alibaba’s main site and some of its affiliated sites like AliExpress, I do not find very much counterfeit Monster product anymore,” said Tognotti, who had been an outspoken critic about counterfeit Monster headphones and other products that are being sold on Alibaba’s Web sites. He is also no longer finding many counterfeit versions of products made by Monster’s rivals, he said.
“It’s as if Alibaba has turned the spigot off,” Tognotti said. There is “always stuff that’s going to sneak through because the counterfeiters and the people who post” listings for such products are “really good at trying to beat the system,” he said. For example, he recently saw a Monster-branded Tron headphone being sold at an Alibaba site even though Monster announced the product, but never actually shipped it, he said.
Alibaba spokesman Robert Christie said the company has been “pretty aggressive” about getting rid of counterfeit products from its Web sites, and that was the case even before its U.S. IPO. As soon as the company identifies such products, it takes them down quickly, he said.
The company had indeed made strides in removing many counterfeit products from its sites, said Deborah Greaves, an attorney at Ezra Brutzkus Gubner LLP, who had served as general counsel at jeans maker True Religion (TRLG) .
But Alibaba still has a long way to go, she said. Alibaba’s processes to remove counterfeit products from its sites remain “somewhat time-consuming and burdensome” for brand owners, who must still largely do the policing of the sites on their own and point out counterfeit items to Alibaba, said Greaves, who now represents other brand owners in the apparel industry whom she said are still experiencing counterfeiting issues with Alibaba sites. Alibaba needs to “provide a mechanism” for brand owners that is simple to use and fast to remove counterfeit listings at its sites, she said.
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