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Alibaba was selling counterfeit Brooklyn Nets gear even as its co-founder was buying a stake in the team

Fake Nets apparel was readily accessible on the Taobao shopping site.

Jeremy Lin of the Brooklyn Nets jumps for the basketball in the first half against the Miami Heat
Jeremy Lin of the Brooklyn Nets jumps for the ball in the first half against the Miami Heat during a preseason game.
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

On the day news broke that Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai was purchasing 49 percent of the Brooklyn Nets NBA franchise, plenty of the team’s gear was available on his company’s shopping sites.

The problem is that many of those items were counterfeit, Recode found after reviewing listings on Alibaba’s Taobao shopping site on that October day as well as on Singles Day, China’s massive online shopping holiday on Nov. 11.

Some seemed like obvious fakes just by looking at them.

A counterfeit purple Brooklyn Nets sweatshirt listed on Alibaba’s Taobao shopping site.
A counterfeit Brooklyn Nets sweatshirt listed on Alibaba’s Taobao shopping site. 178 Chinese Yuan is approximately $27.

While in other cases, a sale price of $7 for a basketball jersey coupled with blurred-out labels gave it away.

A counterfeit Jeremy Lin Brooklyn Nets jersey listed for sale on Alibaba’s Taobao shopping site.
A counterfeit Jeremy Lin Brooklyn Nets jersey listed on Alibaba’s Taobao shopping site.

In a statement, an Alibaba spokeswoman said: “Once these listings, which were posted by third-party sellers on Alibaba’s marketplace, were brought to our attention, we took action to investigate and remove them. As is our commitment and practice, we will continue to do so in close cooperation with rights holders.”

For years, Alibaba has struggled to fight the perception that its shopping sites — particularly Taobao, where millions of small merchants hawk their wares across one billion listings — were hospitable to counterfeit and knock-off goods.

In December, the U.S. placed Taobao back on its “Notorious Markets List” of “online and physical marketplaces that reportedly engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.”

At the time, Alibaba said it was “very disappointed” with the decision and insinuated it was “influenced by the current political climate” following the election of President Donald Trump, who has criticized the current trade relationship between the two nations.

Earlier this year, the company announced the “Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance” with big consumer brands to share information and data to curb counterfeiting.

Alibaba says it uses machine learning and other advanced technologies to identify and weed out fakes. It said it closed down 180,000 merchant storefronts on its properties. The company also relies on rights-holders — or brands — to help it identify fakes when its technology doesn’t.

A solution still seems a ways off, though. Even after the Nets listings in question were taken down, other NBA team jerseys that appear to be counterfeits still remain.

An NBA spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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