Chinese Counterfeiters Rip-off An Entire Apple Store

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Three copycat Apple stores have been discovered in a small Chinese city by a US blogger

Fake Apple shops in an obscure Chinese city have become an internet sensation after being apparently discovered by a US blogger.

The opportunists behind the stores seem to have gone to astonishing lengths to imitate the real-thing’s iconic look, right down to the blue Apple t-shirts and name tags for staff, the light-coloured wood counters, winding staircase and distinctive posters.

But, according to the BirdAbroad blog which claims to have found a total of three fake Apple outlets in Kunming, south-west China, the bootlegged stores don’t stand up to close scrutiny.

On closer inspection

The signage in the stores state ‘Apple Store’, which never appears in genuine Apple stores, the stairs are poorly made and the walls not painted properly. Photos even show one store where the sign out front reads ‘Apple Stroe’.

China’s disregard for Western trademark and copyright laws is famous. One employee told Reuters: “There is no Chinese law that says I can’t decorate my shop the way I want to decorate it.”

The Wall Street Journal has also spoken to an employee at the store who claims the products are genuine and sold at the same prices as those on the Apple website.

Spot the difference

The original blog posting claimed that even the employees believed they were working in a genuine Apple Store, which The Wall Street Journal’s contact denied.

“It doesn’t make much of a difference for us whether we’re authorised or not,” he said. “I just care that what I sell every day are authentic Apple products, and that our customers don’t come back to me to complain about the quality of the products.”

There are only four official Apple stores in China – two each in Beijing and Shanghai, more than 1,000 miles from Kunming. Authorised resellers are permitted to emulate Apple’s distinctive stores but only in accordance with strict guidelines.

The stores in question are not believed to be authorised Apple resellers. Apple itself has so far refused to comment – but retribution could be likely, as Apple has never been slow to defend its brand or contest issues of copyright.

It is currently embroiled in bitter legal action with Samsung and HTC over patent and copyright issues.

The real Apple yesterday announced record breaking profits for the most recent quarter and launched its latest Mac OS X, codenamed Lion.

The Apple board is also reported to be considering successors to Steve Jobs as CEO.

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