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U.S. slams Alibaba and its challenger Pinduoduo for selling fakes – TechCrunch

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China’s biggest ecommerce company Alibaba was again on the U.S. Trade Representative’s blacklist over suspected counterfeits sold on its popular Taobao marketplace that connects small merchants to consumers.

Nestling with Alibaba on the U.S.’s annual “notorious” list that reviews trading partners’ intellectual property practice is its fast-rising competitor Pinduoduo . Just this week, Pinduoduo founder Colin Huang, a former Google engineer, wrote in his first shareholder letter since listing the company that his startup is now China’s second-biggest ecommerce player by the number of “e-way bills”, or electronic records tracking the movement of goods. That officially unseats JD.com as the runner-up to Alibaba.

This is the third year in a row that Taobao has been called out by the U.S. government over IP theft, despite measures the company claims it has taken to root out fakes, including the arrest of 1,752 suspects and closure of 1,282 manufacturing and distribution centers.

“Although Alibaba has taken some steps to curb the offer and sale of infringing products, right holders, particularly SMEs, continue to report high volumes of infringing products and problems with using takedown procedures,” noted the USTR in its report.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Alibaba said it does “not agree with” the USTR’s decision. “Our results and practices have been acknowledged as best-in-class by leading industry associations, brands and SMEs in the United States and around the world. In fact, zero industry associations called for our inclusion in the report this year.”

Pinduoduo is a new addition to the annual blacklist. The Shanghai-based startup has over the course of three years rose to fame among China’s emerging online shoppers in smaller cities and rural regions, thanks to the flurry of super-cheap goods on its platform. While affluent consumers may disdain Pinduodou products’ low quality, price-sensitive users are hooked to bargains even when items are subpar.

“Many of these price-conscious shoppers are reportedly aware of the proliferation of counterfeit products on pinduoduo.com but are nevertheless attracted to the low-priced goods on the platform,” the USTR pointed out, adding that Pinduoduo’s measures to up the ante in anti-piracy technologies failed to fully address the issue.

Pinduoduo, too, rebutted the USTR’s decision. “We do not fully understand why we are listed on the USTR report, and we disagree with the report,” a Pinduoduo spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We will focus our energy to upgrade the e-shopping experience for our users. We have introduced strict penalties for counterfeit merchants, collaborated closely with law enforcement and employed technologies to proactively take down suspicious products.”

The attacks on two of China’s most promising ecommerce businesses came as China and the U.S. are embroiled in on-going trade negotiations, which have seen the Trump administration repeatedly accused China of IP theft. Tmall, which is Alibaba’s online retailer that brings branded goods to shoppers, was immune from the blacklist, and so was Tmall’s direct rival JD.com.

Taobao has spent over a decade trying to revive its old image of an online bazaar teeming with fakes and “shanzhai” items, which are not outright pirated goods but whose names or designs intimate those of legitimate brands. Pinduoduo is now asked to do the same after a few years of growth frenzy. On the one hand, listing publicly in the U.S. subjects the Chinese startup to more scrutiny. On the other, small-town users may soon demand higher quality as their purchasing power improves. And when the countryside market becomes saturated, Pinduoduo will need to more aggressively upgrade its product selection to court the more sophisticated consumers from Chinese megacities.

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The Real Reason Betamax Lost The Format Wars

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JVC officially announced the VHS-format VCR in 1976 and with two formats on the market, both sides dug in (via Sony). Mitsubishi Electric, Matsushita, Hitachi, Sharp, and Akai Electric went with JVC’s VHS format, while Toshiba, Sanyo Electric, NEC, Aiwa, and Pioneer sided with Sony’s Beta format. Sony visited Matsushita’s Osaka headquarters at the end of 1976 to try and persuade them to adopt Betamax. Sony placed one of its players next to a JVC player with both lids off, and Matsushita went with JVC’s player because they had fewer components and could be made for less money.

It wasn’t just the recording media themselves that were better; Sony’s videotape players and recorders were better because they manufactured most of them themselves. And if Sony didn’t build them, it was done by manufacturers they closely monitored, so quality was never an issue. But according to Grunge, JVC wanted to do things differently and licensed its VHS technology to any manufacturer that wanted to make its VCRs. Sony wouldn’t allow its players to be made without direct oversight. This decision ultimately helped lead to the demise of the Beta format as it fostered competition between the various companies making the VHS players and, in turn, eventually drove the prices down to a level far more affordable choice than Sony’s high-priced machines.

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How To Fix Your OnePlus When It’s Charging Slowly

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First, examine your phone’s USB port under a bright light from different angles. Unless you scrub the port every few months, you’ll find dirt and grime lodged into its crevices. Moisture can also harden the build-up, making it difficult to scrape off. But with the right tools and a bit of elbow grease, you can wipe all the dust and debris from your OnePlus charging port.

You’ll need a flashlight or lamp, a toothpick or a cotton bud, and a compressed air duster or bulb syringe. Experts recommend using wooden toothpicks or cotton swabs because they’re non-conductive and don’t interfere with the circuitry. Sharp metal implements like thumbtacks and safety pins can scratch and damage the fragile USB port (via Asurion). Also, avoid blowing air on the phone because your breath contains moisture, making the cleaning even trickier.

To get started, turn off your OnePlus. And use the compressed air duster or bulb syringe to clear out any loose dust and dirt. Next, gently and carefully scrape the build-up with the toothpick or cotton bud. Use a flashlight or lamp to reach the tight corners. You can also tilt the phone or give it slight taps to clear out the scrapings. Finish off with a few more bursts of compressed air. Turn your phone on and test if the slow charging is fixed.

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The 10 Best Aftermarket Parts For Your Ford Bronco

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For those unfamiliar with the tools of the great outdoors, a winch is a device that employs a spool, a length of cable, usually steel braided, and a hook of some kind to aid in several tasks. The most common use of a winch on a 4X4 is to help it get out of a stuck situation. Should your Bronco get mired in mud or fail to overcome a big rock, letting out the winch cable and hooking it onto something solid, like a stout tree, enables the winch to pull it to freedom.

Winches come with various levels of power and cable types and can be installed in various locations. For the purposes of an offroad Bronco, the front bumper is ideal. Not only can it get itself out of a sticky situation, but you can also help a friend by pulling them to safety. Winches can also be set to task as tools. In an emergency, for example, a winch can help to remove a fallen limb somewhere or to drag a heavy object from a body of water.

The Drive notes that winches can be electric, which is handy as the Bronco comes with auxiliary switches for accessories, or hydraulic, running off a power steering pump. Cost ranges from around $350 to $900 and some of the most popular brands are Warn and Superwinch.

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