Chinese authorities have discovered a total of five Apple store knockoffs in the city of Kunming and suspended two of these due to lack of business licenses following an extensive investigation, according to news reports.
The Metropolitan Times report, which was published on Kunming's government Web site on Monday, stated that the Kunming Trade and Industry Bureau had launched an investigation looking into more than 300 electronic stores in the city's four major districts after a blog post last Wednesday revealed the presence of these fake Apple shops.
What tipped the blogger, BirdAbroad, off that these shops were fake was their store signs. She wrote in her blog post that genuine Apple shops do not have words on these signs, just its iconic fruit logo at main entrances. The fake stores had "Apple Store" emblazoned on them, though, with one revealing a spelling error.
In the end, five fake Apple shops were discovered, complete with Apple signs and logos prominently displayed. Two of these were ordered to end operations as they were found to be lacking official business licenses, the report noted.
All five stores sold genuine Apple products, but did so without Apple's authorization, it added.
The Metropolitan Times also said Kunming authorities are committed to upholding copyrights and intellectual property (IP) rights. In an eight-month operation ending June this year, officials have cracked 124 cases involving IP infringement and sale of fake merchandise, confiscating goods worth more than US$2 million.
In a related report, news wire Reuters stated that Chinese law prohibits companies from copying the "look and feel" of other companies' stores. However, enforcement is often "spotty", it added.
Apple only listed Beijing and Shanghai as cities in China with official retail stores. It could not be reached for comment, Reuters stated.