22 fake Apple Stores have been uncovered in one city in China, trade officials have revealed.
This comes after American blogger BirdAbroad initially uncovered five unauthorised Apple stores in the city of Kunming (calling it a ‘beautiful rip-off’), forcing commercial authorities to go deeper into investigations of other potential knock off shops.
The inspections included looking at “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,” China’s official news outlet Xinhua, reported.
No genuine Apple Stores are currently located in the city, located in the south eastern Yunnan region.
The iPad 2 maker’s only Chinese stores are located in Beijing and Shanghai, making it difficult for local patrons to identify they were being done over.
And the biggest joke of all was on staff, who genuinely believed they were working for Steve Jobs’ Cupertino powerhouse, BBC reports.
The ‘Apple’ staff also wore the same attire and name tags hanging around their neck as per licensed stores.
The fake stores have been found to be in violation of Apple registered trademarks and have been ordered to cease perusing logos – laws there prohibit copying the “look and feel” (sounds familiar) of another company without permission.
Apple is currently embroiled in a patent legal case with rivals Samsung, accusing the Koreans of copying the “look and feel” of its iPhone 4 and iPad.
What is also interesting about this fake China case is where the stores were sourcing their stock from – clearly not from official channels.
Reports have also just emerged that a iPhone 5 knock off, known as ‘hiPhone 5’ has hit the streets of China selling for as little as 200 yuan (â‚¬21).
|But considering most of Apple’s iPads and iPhones are made in China anyway by third suppliers like Foxconn, dodgy Apple Stores might not have to go far to get vast grey market supplies. The plot thickens.
And what’s more, the fakery is not confined just to Asia.
The blogger BirdAbroad has also seen some picture evidence of suspected Apple Store fakes not just in Asia but far flung locations like Colombia, Burma to Venezuela and Slovenia.