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China's poor record of preventing copyright violations is not getting any better. Fake Apple stores were recently discovered in the capital of Yunnan province, in Kunming city. While some Chinese customers are happy to get the products despite the stores being unauthorized, some experts say Apple's prestigious brand could suffer.
The fake Apple Stores have now been closed.
Counterfeiting is a major concern for China's trading partners. Now it's gone far beyond copying individual goods. A fake Apple store discovered in China's Kunming City shows just how lax the Chinese are in regulating intellectual property rights.
It was one of several unauthorized Apple stores in the area—complete with the white Apple logo, wooden tables, identical posters and cheery staff in blue t-shirts.
One customer didn't feel it mattered.
[Hu Junkai, Kunming City Resident]:
"If the products you buy are real and not counterfeit, who cares whether this store is a copy or not. The only thing that matters is that their products are real."
But not all customers were so unfazed, and returned to demand their money back.
Apple was alerted to the fake store when an American living in the city wrote about it on her blog.
Just a few blocks away, another fake, though less convincing, Apple Store can be found.
Apple has authorized about one thousand re-sellers to sell its goods in China, but they are not allowed to call themselves Apple stores.
Others buy popular Apple products abroad and smuggle them into the country to avoid taxes, selling them at cheaper prices than at the authorized stores.
A senior researcher at China Market Research, James Roy, says it could hurt the brand.