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US slams Baidu, Taobao for piracy

It said 100 salespeople, out of a workforce of 14,000, allegedly involved in defrauding customers, were also fired, the AP reported.

The US Chamber of Commerce advised Congress to pass legislation allowing US courts to block foreign websites that sell pirated or counterfeit goods from operating in the US, according to Reuters.

The Chinese government pledged in January to strengthen efforts to protect online intellectual property rights by promoting the establishment of industry associations and by requiring operating websites to acquire licenses, People's Daily reported.

Some consumers, both domestic and foreign, have argued that the demand for pirated and counterfeit goods remains high due to cheap costs and widespread availability, but experts have rejected this argument as not warranting IPR infringements.

Ren Hucheng, a Beijing-based lawyer specializing in IPR, told the Global Times that leading companies such as Baidu and Taobao should be role models in China.

"They should promote corporate social responsibility, spearhead efforts to create a disciplined and healthy business environment," he said. The awareness of IPR protection among Chinese consumers appears to be insufficient, despite tough anti-piracy measures.

"The legal cost for infringements is very low here. People involved in these fraudulent businesses would earn huge profits before being sued and punished," Ren added.

Yu Mingyang, a professor in brand marketing at Shanghai Jiaotong University, told the Global Times that as Chinese enterprises integrate into the international market, they will have to play ball by global rules.

"The alarm bell has been rung for Chinese companies to pay more attention to their social responsibility. To build up a good reputation, some of them may have to abandon their current business methods, which focus only on profitability," Yu noted, adding that more international accusations toward the accountability of Chinese companies would occur soon.

"It's time for enterprises, consumers and the government to attach more importance to the issue and build a fair and friendly market," Yu said.

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