Chinese officials have ordered the closure of two out of five fake apple stores in Kunming that were uncovered last week by an American Blogger.
A vivid description from blogger "Bird Abroad" which attracted a storm of media coverage has led to the investigation of five apple stores who allegedly sold Apple products without authorization.
According to Reuters only two of the stores will be shut down. The initial store discovered by the blogger remains open after a government spokesman said the store had started the process of applying for a reseller license with Apple.
"Media should not misunderstand the situation and jump to conclusions. Some overseas media has made it appear the stores sold fake Apple products," said Chang Puyun, spokesman of Kunming government's business bureau.
Over 300 stores have been inspected in Kunming following the media storm that sparked after the blogger described a flawless imitation of a store where even the staff in the stores believed they genuinely worked for Apple.
The expat described her shock when she walked into what seemed like a legitimate Apple Store, with its employees dressed in blue t-shirts with large chunky nametags hanging from their necks. It was only after spending sometimes inside that led her to believe the store was in fact, fake.
"You have already guessed the punch line, of course: this was a total Apple store rip-off. A beautiful rip-off - a brilliant one - the best rip-off store we had ever seen (and we see them every day). But some things were just not right: the stairs were poorly made. The walls hadn't been painted properly. Apple never writes "Apple Store" on its signs - it just puts up the glowing, iconic fruit," she wrote.
In addition to protecting trademarks, Chinese law prohibits companies from copying the "look and feel" of other companies' stores, but enforcement is often spotty.
The United States and other Western countries have often complained China is woefully behind in its effort to stamp out intellectual property (IP) theft.
"We hope that they will take continuous action against other Intellectual Property Rights violations," Ioana Kraft, general manager of the Shanghai chapter of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said in an emailed comment to Reuters.