This Kat has seen a number of genuine-looking counterfeit goods in her IP practice. However, three Apple Stores in Kunming China appear to have taken faking it to a whole new level. Instead of just knocking off a convincing copy of the latest Apple gadget, blogger BirdAbroad has reported that some Chinese counterfeiters seem to have gone one step further and have actually replicated an entire Apple Store. The fake-out was so good that apparently some of the employees thought that they were working in genuine Apple Stores.
At a glance, according to BirdAbroad, the three stores in Kunming resembled a typical Apple Store. The employees wore blue t-shirts with official-looking Apple name badges around their necks. The goods were presented in the usual way so that customers had easy access to try them out. There was a winding staircase leading to an upstairs seating area.
On closer inspection by BirdAbroad, all was not as genuine as it seemed. One of the store signs reads ‘Apple Stoer’ instead of just bearing the Apple logo. The walls were not painted properly. The winding staircase was of poor quality.
According to the Apple website, there are only four official stores in China. All of these are located either in Beijing or Shanghai, not Kunming. Apple also has a network authorised sellers in China, including one seller in Kunming. However, this was not one of the three stores named by BirdAbroad.
Fortunately, the Chinese authorities and/or Apple have sprung into action. Chinese official news outlet Xinhua states:
"Kunming launches inspection on fake 'Apple Stores'The IPKat thinks that there is never a more apt moment to remind readers of the Chinese word for fake or counterfeit: shanzhai (pronounced SHAN-JAI and previously mentioned on this blog here).
Industrial and commercial authorities in Kunming, capital city of southwestern Yunnan Province, on Friday started an inspection on all the city's electronics stores.
The inspection is carried out after three stores, self-named "Apple Stores" yet never authorized by the Apple Inc., were exposed via the Internet.
The inspection includes business licenses, authorized permits of brand use, and the purchase channel of each store, said a worker with the city's industrial and commercial department.
The inspection result will be announced to the public soon, the worker said.
The three alleged fake "Apple Stores" were discovered by a traveling blogger named BirdAbroad, who posted photos and challenged the stores' legitimate status and rights to use Apple's logo".
The ever-cautious Merpel is going to pay extra special attention next time she is in the Apple Store in Regent Street in London, just to be on the safe side ...