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Apple lawsuit presumed to target counterfeit stores

A new lawsuit filed by Apple appears to take aim at numerous parties for infringing on its trademarks. The suit is believed to be tied to the recent surge of copycat stores in the U.S. and abroad.

Those look-alike Apple retail stores that have been gaining attention over the past month? They appear to have caught the eye of Apple too.

In a trademark infringement lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York, Apple has taken aim at three companies and some 52 other individuals. One of those is Apple Story Inc., believed to be the match of a similarly named Apple retail look-alike in Flushing, New York.

The details of the case, which was found by AppleInsider today, are unknown since it remains sealed for all except legal counsel and the parties involved. However a motion filed last week seeks a temporary restraining order as well as a preliminary injunction on the named defendants.

Following last month's interest over the fake shops--which was spurred byphotos and details of a look-alike shop in Kunming, a city in southwest China--local officials ended up closing down two stores. A Reuters report noted that that same investigation, which had led to the closures, found that all five stores in the area were selling Apple-made hardware that had been purchased from third-party authorized resellers. A follow-up by American blogger BirdAbroad (who posted information about the Kunming shop), highlighted several more such stores, including ones in the U.S.

Apple's retail business generated $3.5 billion in revenue during the most recent fiscal quarter, up 36 percent from the $2.57 billion during the same quarter the year before. During its fiscal third-quarter earnings call, the company noted that of the 325 stores that were open, the average revenue per store was $10.8 million, with 73.7 million visitors walking through the doors, making the prospect of a knock-off appealing to would-be retail experience counterfeiters.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the suit.