Fake Apple Store Spotted in China

Why fake the products, when you can copy the entire store?

The BirdAbroad blogposted photos and a detailed description of a fake Apple store in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming.

At first glance the store looked legitimate. There was a winding staircase, employees wearing blue T-shirts with chunky Apple name tags around their necks. But there were telltale signs that the store was a fake.

First, Apple doesn't write "Apple Store" on its signs, it just posts its iconic logo, or in the case of authorized resellers,the words "Apple Shop". Also, those stairs were poorly made, according to the expat blogger.

apple_store_1_300.jpg
Source: BirdAbroad

Now, other media outlets have jumped on the story. The Wall Street Journalspoke with one of the employees there who said they knew the store was a fake but they didn't care.

"It doesn't make much of a difference for us whether we're authorized or not," he told the paper. "I just care that what I sell every day are authentic Apple products, and that our customers don't come back to me to complain about the quality of the products."

Despite what the employee said, it's unknown whether the products in the Kunming store are real or fake.

There are plenty of other stores that sell Apple products in China without authorization, but they don't tend to attempt to mimic the entire Apple store experience.

These unauthorized vendors either purchase their Apple products from the company's retail outlets or they buy them overseas and smuggle them into the country.

fake_apple_store_3_200.jpg
Source: BirdAbroad

There actually are only four legitimate Apple Stores in China. Two in Beijing, and two in Shanghai.

Apple declined to tell the Journal what action it would take, but Apple has responded swiftly to infringements of its intellectual property in the past.

Recent examples of the steps it has taken include the police probe into the iPhone prototypepurchased by technology website Gizmodo before the product's launch, and prison terms that were handed down to three people in Shezhen after police discovered they had collaborated to steal pre-release photos of the iPad2 in order to develop accessories for it.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com. Follow Christina Cheddar Berk on Twitter @ccheddarberk.