Fake Apple Store in China even fools staff

Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:57pm EDT
 
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By Melanie Lee

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese counterfeiters have had a field day pumping out knockoffs of Apple Inc's best-selling iPhones and iPads, but one appears to have gone a step further -- a near flawless fake Apple Store that even employees believe is the real deal.

The store in Kunming was stumbled upon by a 27-year-old American blogger living in the city, the capital of China's mountainous southwestern Yunnan province.

Complete with the white Apple logo, wooden tables and cheery staff claiming they work for the iPhone maker, the store looks every bit like Apple Stores found all over the world, according to the blogger, who goes by the name "BirdAbroad".

But Apple has no stores in Kunming and only 13 authorized resellers in the city, who are not allowed to call themselves Apple Stores or claim to work for Apple.

"This was a total Apple store rip-off. A beautiful rip-off -- a brilliant one -- the best rip-off store we had ever seen," the anonymous blogger posted on Wednesday. "Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple."

An Apple spokesman in California declined to comment on the fake stores but said consumers can go to the company's website to locate authorized outlets.

Apple takes infringement of intellectual property very seriously and acts swiftly to protect its secrets. When an iPhone prototype turned up at a U.S. bar last year and was sold to a technology blog Gizmodo, Apple kicked up a furor and investigators raided a journalist's home.

The United States and other Western countries have often complained China is woefully behind in its effort to stamp out intellectual property theft.   Continued...

 
<p>A fake Apple Store in Kunming, China, in a recent photo. REUTERS/Courtesy of BirdAbroad</p>