While Apple continues with its court battles on patent infringement cases, here is some more food for thought for the company’s legal cell. Another 22 unauthorized Apple retailers have been uncovered in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming in China. This within just a few weeks after the first fake store was discovered in the city leading to quite an international furore over the issue.
The Chinese State media has stated that the Administration for Industry and Commerce in the Yunnan provincial capital has asked the fake stores to stop selling their products as well as restricted them for using the Apple logo at their shops. Apple China had lodged a protest regarding the unfair practice that was being followed.
However, the one area where there is still some confusion is whether the shops were selling fake Apple products or selling the genuine, albeit smuggled, ones. The process of buying genuine branded items abroad and then smuggling them into China is a lucrative business in that country as it allows those involved to evade taxes.
The current inspection and monitoring extravaganza started after an American living in Kunming exposed a fake Apple store in her blog. The store was so close to genuine that even its workers were not aware that they were not working for the Connecticut based company. The manager of the store too expressed optimism of getting necessary certification from Apple to regularize his shop, as the shop came really close to exuding the look and feel of a genuine Apple store.
Apple has just four authorized stores in China, two each in Beijing and Shanghai, while many more retailers exists that have been authorized to sell genuine Apple products.
There already are laws in China that forbids copying the “look and feel” of stores of other established companies. But what it doesn’t have is the will or the means for its strict implementation. No wonder, as far as prevention of copyright theft goes, China has been voted as the worst case scenario by the US for the seventh year in a row.
Cloning in China is big business and they take pride in developing products that look exactly like the original. However, the latest expose by an American living in Kunming has made a dent in their image world wide. The authorities are out from their slumber and as a damage control measure, a hot line had been set up for lodging complaints, a step that should help in boosting the monitoring process that was being put in place.
However, this might still be just the tip of the iceberg as the fake racket in China runs deep and wide. Which means there are still a lot of skeletons hiding in the cupboard.