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Alibaba sinks $161M into nixing counterfeits over two years

China's e-commerce giant says that since January 2013 it has banned 90 million counterfeit items that had been on its listings.

Alibaba Group is working hard at removing counterfeit goods from its e-commerce sites. SingPost/Alibaba

Over the last two years, China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has spent well over $100 million ridding its listings of counterfeit items.

Between January 2013 and November 2014, Alibaba spent 1 billion yuan (about $161 million) removing counterfeit items from the company's e-commerce listings, the China-based company announced Tuesday. In total, over 90 million items have been removed from its group of e-commerce sites.

Alibaba's announcement should help allay some fears among investors and critics who have taken the company to task over the amount of fake goods on one of its most popular e-commerce sites, Taobao. Until 2013, in fact, the US Office of Trade Representatives called Taobao a "notorious" market for counterfeit products.

Earlier this year, before Alibaba secured a record $25 billion IPO, the issue of counterfeit goods came up among regulators and the company. Alibaba said at the time that while counterfeits were a concern, it had been working diligently to remove the offending goods.

But it's not so easy to stay ahead of the counterfeiters. Taobao is essentially a cross between eBay and Amazon, allowing merchants to sell their own goods on the site. In China, where counterfeiting is notoriously prolific, those folks are heading to Taobao to sell their goods under the guise that they're real. Verifying that products being sold through the site by every merchant is nearly impossible for any company to do.

Still, Alibaba isn't sidestepping its role in fighting the fakes. In a statement to Reuters on Tuesday, Alibaba chief executive Jonathan Lu said that his company continues to "bear a serious responsibility in this fight against counterfeits."

Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment.