"Current levels of reported counterfeiting and piracy are unacceptably high" on Taobao, an Alibaba e-commerce platform, said the U.S. government, citing an example of a major U.S. motor vehicle manufacturer that suspected at least 95% of merchandise purporting to bear its brand were fake.
Still, counterfeits remain an uphill battle for the firm. Kering, a luxury brands group that includes Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, has before sued the company. Yet another kerfuffle occurred last year when the influential International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition allowed Alibaba to join its ranks, angering a number of its existing members.
Ma's recent comments have deflected responsibility – just a few weeks ago, he said Alibaba was "itself a victim of counterfeiting." He's now gone further to stress that China's laws are far too lax, and that counterfeiters must be punished.
"There is a lot of bark around stopping counterfeits, but no bite," Ma said this week.
On Wednesday, Alibaba released a statement saying it was "suing a Taobao merchant suspected of selling counterfeit Mars pet food for RMB 2.67 million yuan for violation of contract and goodwill."
Alibaba said it was asking the court "to compel the defendant to publish a written apology in several prominent print and web publications for a week."
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