Taobao win in landmark counterfeit case showcases China’s battle against fakes

By Xiao Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/25 20:08:39

Alibaba's Taobao website has won a landmark online counterfeiting case against a vendor selling fake cat food on the hugely popular Chinese e-commerce platform, a positive development in the country's efforts to tackle fake goods sold online.

Observers believe that if the country can build on such efforts, the  skepticism among some foreign institutions over China's counterfeit problem will dissipate. The pet food vendor, found to be guilty of selling fake cat food on Taobao, was ordered by a court in Shanghai to pay 120,000 yuan ($17,776) in damages to the online trade platform. The ruling, the first of its kind, exemplifies the country's efforts to fight counterfeiting, which has cast a shadow over China's thriving online shopping sector.

The popularity of online shopping, which provides consumers with great convenience, serves as an engine for job creation and revs up China's economic growth. So it's no good if the sector is seen as a hotbed of counterfeit goods. True, many steps have been taken to tackle online fakes, including the opening of flagship online stores on major e-commerce platforms by a growing number of brands, and greater efforts by both the authorities and e-commerce platforms to investigate and eliminate fake products.

Still, more effective judicial and legal oversight of counterfeiting is seen as the fundamental solution to the issue. In that light, Taobao's court win is indeed a breakthrough, but it's also an indication that there is still a long way to go before China will be seen as a strong opponent of counterfeiting.

In a striking sign of lingering concerns over China's counterfeit problem, a report in late June by Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency, accused China of being the main source of counterfeits globally. The report's accusations were denounced by Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen as "irresponsible."

The report ignored China's crackdown on fakes - particularly online counterfeit products - and it blew the counterfeit issue out of proportion. But for the outside world to be convinced of the country's unwavering commitment to battle against fakes, tougher laws and penalties should be put into place for counterfeiters. Only when the cost of counterfeiting becomes too high to bear will fake goods be driven out of the markets, both online and brick-and-mortar.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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