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MEMA, AASA Fight Online Counterfeit Parts Sales

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Nov. 24, 2015—The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) urged the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to address counterfeit motor vehicle parts on the Internet by listing certain sites known to traffic in counterfeit goods on its annual Notorious Market Report.

“Online sales of counterfeit parts are a growing problem for suppliers," said Steve HandschuhMEMA president and chief executive officer, in a letter. "Historically, online sales have not been a significant means of counterfeit parts entering the domestic or global marketplace. This is changing as China and other countries experience a phenomenal growth in e-commerce, resulting in an increase in counterfeit parts in the international online environment. Today, counterfeit goods, offered as genuine brands, are more readily available online in the local market and globally because of the nature of the Internet.”

“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.”

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. “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, cboland@mema.org.

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