Following reports and a number of photos detailing counterfeit Apple Stores in the Chinese city of Kumming, Chinese industrial and commercial authorities have begun taking a closer look at all electronics shops in the area.
The inspections were carried out after three self-named “Apple Stores” were exposed via the Internet, but are not authorized by Apple Inc., it said.
The inspections will look into business licenses, authorized permits on brand use, and the purchase channel of each store, said a worker with the city’s industrial and commercial department.
The result of the inspections will be announced to the public soon, the worker said.
China famously has no problem with its citizenry ripping off the intellectual property of others to the extent that counterfeit and knockoff electronics products are commonplace, but perhaps copying a company’s entire retail store is where Chinese authorities draw the line.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this investigation. Is it just for show, perhaps? We’d wager against that. For as much as Apple wants to get into China, China is similarly keen on Apple setting up shop in its country. Apple currently has four official retail stores in the country along with 13 authorized resellers.
Update: Two of the Apple Stores have been ordered to close down for not having official business permits. Note that 5 rogue Apple Stores were found in the city of Kumming and the other three are presumably still in operation.
In May, China was listed for the seventh year by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office as a country with one of the worst records for preventing copyright theft.
Piracy and counterfeiting of U.S. software and a wide range of other intellectual property in China cost U.S. businesses alone an estimated $48 billion and 2.1 million jobs in 2009, the U.S. International Trade Commission has said.