Inclusion in USTR report on notorious mkts list is ill-informed: Snapdeal

A private security gurad stands at a gate of Snapdeal headquarters in Gurugram on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. (Photo: Reuters)
E-commerce giant Snapdeal said that its inclusion in the 2020 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy issued by the office of the US Trade Representative is “ill-informed and incorrect.”

SoftBank-backed Snapdeal said the USTR report is a blinkered view of the world and wilfully disregards the well-established laws and policies of various countries around the world.

“The report released by USTR tarnishes the image of world’s leading marketplaces, including Amazon, Mercado Libre, Pinduoduo, Shopee, Snapdeal, Taobao, Tokopedia and many others on the basis of incorrect understanding of the practices and the laws applicable to various markets,” said a Snapdeal spokesperson.

The four other Indian markets that have found mention in the list are Heera Panna in Mumbai, Kidderpore in Kolkata and Palika Bazaar and Tank Road in Delhi. Aizawl's Millennium Center was mentioned in the last list of notorious markets. It has now been replaced by Palika Bazaar.

Snapdeal said the report reflects a poor understanding of the governing laws in various jurisdictions, including India. While courts in India continue to uphold and assert the distinction between marketplaces and sellers, Snapdeal said the USTR report willfully blurs this distinction to further a flawed point of view. In doing so, it ignores clear and well-established regulatory and legal frameworks under which marketplaces operate, said the company.

The company said the comments made with regard to Snapdeal are factually incorrect and repeat the falsehoods contained in the 2019 report, which the firm had strongly rebutted. It said the lack of diligence is evident in including reference to related sites that have ceased to operate four years ago.

Snapdeal said the report omits to mention the various on-going, proactive and preventive anti-counterfeiting efforts of the firm. These include Snapdeal’s robust reporting and swift takedown process program - Brand Shield, which has been in operation now for more than 2 years. This has led to close and effective collaboration with leading national and international brands. Building on this Snapdeal has formed alliances with various brands to provide additional protection for brands with registered trademarks.
The company said the report also fails to acknowledge the continuing close co-operation between platforms, brands and law-enforcement agencies, all of which have led to significant and productive outcomes. 

It said the report not only fails to make a distinction between the respective roles of brands, sellers and platforms but also wilfully ignores the applicable laws in various jurisdictions, including in India.

The USTR had said Snapdeal remains a concern for right holders who report that the volume of counterfeit products on this platform has increased over the past year.

However, Snapdeal said the report is also factually incorrect on many counts. There have been no criminal accusations against the founders for selling counterfeit products. Such negligent statements and unverified reporting by USTR is defamatory and unacceptable, said the firm.

It said the process of collating inputs by USTR continues to be outdated, opaque and based on unverified inputs. “We firmly disagree with the ‘findings’ of the report, specifically in its observations relating to Snapdeal,” said the company.


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