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Report: Fake Apple stores being forced to cover up

Following last month's high-profile coverage of look-alike Apple stores in China, officials in Beijing are said to have begun a crackdown to keep passersby from mistaking one of the shops for Apple's own.

The outside of the fake Apple store in Kunming, China.
The outside of the fake Apple store in Kunming, China.

With a U.S. lawsuit over fake Apple retail stores in its infancy, officials in Beijing have taken steps to keep lookalike Apple retail stores in the region from fooling passers by.

China Daily reports that the city is making a concerted effort to keep unauthorized retailers from using Apple's iconic logo, as well as its related brand names from the exterior of stores. The crackdown will last a month, but as the outlet notes, it's not keeping the look-alike stores from doing business as usual on the inside.

"As of Sunday, the response to the ban from unauthorized Apple sellers had been sluggish, with some owners merely covering their Apple logos with blank sheets of paper, or just covering part of the Apple logo, and employees at unauthorized retailers could still be seen dressed in T-shirts bearing the Apple logo," China Daily said.

Following last month's buzz about the fake shops--which was spurred by photos 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.

While Apple so far has refrained from commenting on the grouping of shops, a trademark infringement lawsuit it filed in the U.S. two weeks ago would suggest the company's been busy behind the scenes. That suit, filed in New York, takes 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, N.Y.

As mentioned in previous coverage, Apple's retail business makes for a tantalizing target for parties looking to cash in on the company's growing brand. Apple's stores 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.

Apple is quickly approaching 330 stores worldwide, four of which are currently in China, including its flagship store in Beijing, the same city this crackdown is now taking place.

(via The Next Web)