August 13, 2011

22 Fake Apple Stores Found By Chinese Authorities

Authorities in a southwestern Chinese city have forced a total of 22 counterfeit Apple stores to stop using the company's trademarks, just weeks after the first unauthorized retailer had been discovered there, various media outlets reported on Thursday and Friday.

All of the businesses were located in Kunming, the site where a blogger had previously discovered "five counterfeit stores that looked very similar to an official Apple Store, down to the acrylic product information panels and long wooden display tables," Leslie Horn of PCMag.com reported.

In fact, BBC News also reported that the staff at some of the faux outlets even wore the same type of t-shirts and used the same style lanyards as actual Apple stores, and that some of the employees were even led to believe that the businesses were legitimate.

According to Reuters reports Thursday, "China's [State] Administration for Industry and Commerce in the Yunnan provincial capital said the stores have been ordered to stop using Apple's logo after Apple China accused them of unfair competition and violating its registered trademark."

"The market watchdog agency said it would set up a complaint hotline and boost monitoring, the official Xinhua news agency reported"¦ It did not say if the shops were selling knock-off Apple products or genuine but smuggled models," the news agency also reported.

"It is not clear whether the shops being reprimanded were selling products sourced from Apple distributors in the country or grey market imports," notes the BBC. Horn notes that Apple themselves have not yet spoken publicly on the matter, and had not responded to her requests for comment.

As previously reported here on RedOrbit, the first fake Apple stores were discovered by a 27-year-old blogger living in the Kunming. No authorized Apple stores had been opened in the city, and the report prompted inspections of approximately 300 electronics retailers during the month of July.

Two of the original five stores were closed for operating without the proper business permits.

"Chinese law protects trademarks and prohibits companies from copying the 'look and feel' of other companies' stores," Reuters said on Thursday. "But enforcement is spotty, and the United States and other Western countries have often complained China is woefully behind in its effort to stamp out intellectual property (IP) theft."

Each of the stores had until August 10 to remove all Apple trademarks and logos, and according to Horn, they have all complied with the order.


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