“Counterfeit parts not only harm suppliers and rob them of valuable intellectual property rights, they pose a threat to motorists and repair technicians who unknowingly may install an inferior and potentially dangerous parts on their vehicle,” said Bill Long, president and chief operating officer of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), the light vehicle aftermarket division of MEMA.
In the letter, MEMA specifically cited Alibaba.com and its family of websites including TaoBao.com and AliExpress.com as sites most commonly named by MEMA members as selling counterfeit parts. While these online sites have been listed in the Notorious Market Report in the past, the USTR removed TaoBao.com from the list in 2012 with the stipulation that it “decrease the time required for taking down listings of counterfeit and pirated goods and to … achieve a satisfactory outcome with U.S. rights holders and industry associations.”
“Unfortunately, these urgings by USTR have not been met,” Handschuh noted. “MEMA member companies have experienced a history of misrepresentation by Alibaba and its platform websites in dealing with suspected counterfeit products. Additionally, MEMA member companies have attempted to engage and build relationships with Alibaba in order to address counterfeit motor vehicle parts bearing unauthorized trademarks. These attempts have not been productive and the counterfeiting continues.”
Handschuh also noted that regular viewing of products available on the Alibaba family of websites include brand name products that are not manufactured in China by the IPR owner. “The price, volume of product and lack of manufacturing in China by the brand owner are all strong indications of counterfeit merchandise,” he said in the letter. “A top motor vehicle manufacturer has estimated that at least 95 percent of the merchandise bearing its company’s brand names and trademarks found on Alibaba.com and its family of platforms are suspected to be counterfeit.”
The full text of the MEMA USTR letter is available here. MEMA will continue to work with the USTR on addressing online sales of counterfeit parts to protect the intellectual property rights and brand reputations of its motor vehicle parts supplier members. For more information on MEMA’s brand protection efforts, contact Catherine Boland of MEMA, firstname.lastname@example.org.