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Two fake Apple stores closed in China, report says

Local authorities close two of the five pretenders in Kunming for lack of permits. Meanwhile, reports of other faux stores worldwide have been flowing in, from Croatia to Queens.

Two fake Apple stores have been shut down, but others remain in China and worldwide, like this one in Xi'an.

Those fake Apple stores in China that created so much buzz in recent days have only just come under investigation by authorities in the city of Kunming, and now it's being reported that two of the stores have been ordered to close for lack of the proper business licenses. Three of the five unauthorized Apple stores in Kunming are said to remain open.

Reuters reports that Chinese investigators also determined the products being sold in the faux Apple stores were genuine Apple products purchased from other resellers, not knock-offs.

The media storm in the past week started when an American blogger living in the city posted pictures of the stores online. Since then, numerous customers have apparently returned to the Kunming stores to demand proof that their purchases aren't counterfeit.

While China does have laws against outright copying of a store's design and brand, enforcement can be spotty, and officials in Kunming seemed to be more concerned with emphasizing that the Apple products found in the stores are genuine, according to reports in Chinese media.

Apple's business is intertwined with China, creating a love-hate relationship. Nearly all of the company's products are born in huge factory complexes in the country's interior, some as large as midsized cities, and Apple has started to move into China's retail market, with four official Apple stores in the sprawling country. But China has also been the source of numerous leaks, cheap knock-offs, piracy and other headaches for Apple. The fake Apple stores have been one of the most impressive such violations to date in their attention to detail.

The kerfuffle over the Kunming stores has also exposed the breadth of such brick-and-mortar copycatting. After her initial blog post generated so much attention, the blogger who exposed the southwestern China frauds has received numerous reports of other Apple store fakes worldwide, from Croatia to Venezuela, and in other Chinese cities. My favorite, though, has to be the retailer known as "Apple Story," which one reader claims to have found in a less exotic location--New York.

Greg Autry via BirdAbroad