Yunnan Net is reporting that on July 25 the Kunming Municipal Industry and Commerce Bureau launched an emergency investigation into the fake Apple stores that have been a hot topic around the world and China since blogger Birdabroad noted their existence on her blog last week.
The bureau has reportedly also notified the headquarters of Apple's China company of the initial findings of its investigation and has told Kunming media that it hopes to work with Apple on handling the problem.
Investigators now say there are five fake Apple stores in Kunming, two of which – one on Baiyun Lu and one on Dongfeng Dong Lu – had not applied for business licenses.
This would seem to suggest that the three fake Apple stores with business licenses – one on Wucheng Lu, one on Zhengyi Lu and the other in Jinmabiji Fang – had obtained licenses through bureau staff who were either oblivious to the intellectual property violations being committed in the stores or simply didn't care.
Since the focus of unwanted global attention on Kunming's apparent lack of IPR enforcement on July 20, Kunming officials have investigated more than 300 computer shops throughout the city's four main urban districts, confirming that the three shops mentioned on Birdabroad's blog were fake and discovering two more fake Apple stores.
The three fake Apple stores that had acquired business licenses have been found to be selling genuine Apple products.
In theory, China's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 was supposed to lead to an eventual elimination of out-in-the-open IPR violations such as these fake Apple stores. But perhaps even more significant than the lengths to which these stores have gone to appear real is how surprised the rest of the world is that this would happen.
Since WTO accession, Kunming has continued to be awash with fake goods, from the counterfeit DVDs that can be purchased at small shops throughout the city to the fake dairy products that gave infants kidney stones in 2008, to the fake beer operations broken up that same year, to the discovery of a massive fake liquor scandal last year. Earlier this year, investigators even discovered a small workshop producing fake cakes.
Will the fallout from the fake Apple store scandal improve the IPR/counterfeit situation in Kunming? It would be nice to think so, but considering that when a local man builds a fake Lamborghini he is praised by netizens, we're not going to hold our breath.
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