Inside they looked and felt real, down to the white apple logo on the windows, the wooden tables sporting shiny Macs and an energetic, young sales staff in Apple t-shirts. Only the Apple stores in China's Kunming city were fake.
Five "Apple Stores" were found to be selling Apple products without any authorization from the company, but only two were closed, Reuters reported today.
The Chinese officials in the city of Kunming ordered two of the fake Apple retailers to close because they didn't have an official business permit, not because of piracy or copyright issues," Reuters also reported.
The fake stores were first brought to world attention by an American blogger living in Kunming who posted photos of a store that looked real, even down to the display tables and product information panels. "Even the employees seemed to believe they actually worked for Apple," PCmag.com reported.
A spokesman for the Kunming government said that the stores were selling genuine Apple products, although he did not say where they came from.
“China has taken great steps to enforce intellectual property rights, and the stores weren’t selling fake products,” he added.
According to Reuters, one of the stores is applying to become an authorized Apple reseller. There are four official Apple Stores in China: two in Beijing and two in Shanghai, with 20 more planned for 2011, PCmag.com reported.
Apple hasn’t commented on the scandal, and it’s unclear how it could crack down on phony stores in China, ranked as having one of the worst records on copyright theft for the seventh consecutive year.
China’s intellectual property laws are much weaker than such laws in the West, Reuters noted.