Fake Louis Vuitton handbags, fake Thomas the Tank Engine toy trains and fake electronics have, in essence, become the norm in China. But the recent incident takes piracy to a whole new level: fake Apple stores in Kunming, a city in the southern Yunnan province.
Discovered and exposed by an American who lives in Kunming, she and her husband stumbled on, not one, but three shops masquerading as genuine Apple stores in the city. As proof, she took and posted photos on her BirdAbroad blog. These three stores are not among the authorized resellers listed on Apple Inc.’s website. Officially, there are only four authorized stores in China, two in Beijing and two in Shanghai.
“It looked like an Apple store. It had the classic Apple store winding staircase and weird upstairs sitting area. The employees were even wearing those blue T-shirts with the chunky Apple name tags around their necks,” she wrote on her blog.
But as typical China knockoffs go, however, there were telling differences.
“Some things were just not right: the stairs were poorly made. The walls hadn’t been painted properly. Apple never writes ‘Apple Store’ on its signs – it just puts up the glowing, iconic fruit.”
To be honest, one has to almost admire the chuztpah of the Chinese for such a brazen act of copyright, trademark and, quite likely, patent infringement all in one go. This latest episode goes to show how deeply embedded the piracy culture is in China and the lack of progress the Chinese government has had in countering it.