MEMA, AASA Fight Back Against Online Sales of Counterfeit Parts

Date: November 20, 2015

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) is urging the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to stem the tide of counterfeit motor vehicle parts flooding 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. 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,” noted Steve Handschuh, MEMA president and chief executive officer, in the USTR letter. “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 IP 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, 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, cboland@mema.org.

About MEMA

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) represents more than 1,000 companies that manufacture components and systems for use in motor vehicles and equipment in the light vehicle and heavy-duty, on- and off-highway commercial vehicle markets for the original equipment and aftermarket industries. Motor vehicle component manufacturers are the nation’s largest manufacturing sector with a total employment impact of 3.62 million employees – for every direct job in the motor vehicle supplier industry, another five jobs are created. MEMA represents its members through four divisions: Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA), Motor & Equipment Remanufacturers Association (MERA) and Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA). For more information on the motor vehicle component supplier industry, visit www.mema.org.

About AASA

AASA (www.aftermarketsuppliers.org) exclusively serves manufacturers of aftermarket components, tools and equipment, and related products which support 710,000 employees in the United States. AASA is a recognized industry change agent – promoting a collaborative industry environment, providing a forum to address issues and serving as a valued resource for members. AASA is the light vehicle aftermarket division of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). “AASA, The Voice for the Automotive Aftermarket Supplier Industry”

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