Sincerest Form Of Flattery? Copies Of Apple Stores So Convincing Even Employees Think They Work For Apple

from the they-can-hang-out-with-fake-nec-employees dept

Five years ago, we wrote about how counterfeiters in China weren't just making fake NEC products, but had built an entire fake NEC office, which basically acted as if it were the real NEC. They coordinated manufacturing with 50 different factories, employees carried NEC business cards and here's the kicker: they developed new product lines that the real NEC later admitted were "of generally good quality." So it came as little surprise -- as mowgs and probably 50 others of you submitted -- to hear that there are totally fake Apple stores popping up around China, which look like the real thing -- and have even fooled some employees who think they're working for the real Apple. Of course, this is the kind of thing where trademark law actually makes sense -- where consumers are at a high likelihood of being confused about the true origin of the goods they're buying. On the whole, though, I find somewhat fascinating the levels that folks in China are going to in order to copy other companies. If you're going to put in that much effort, why not just put up your own store?


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    Butcherer79 (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 4:53am

    You probably have to wonder too, if the stock is genuine (as the stories that I've read on this suggest) then who's supplying these stores at a rate at which they can be competitive?
    With Apple declining to comment, does this mean they're afraid of tackling China's IPR/Copyright laws OR that they're happy to supply these stores as long as they make their money, knowing that if any product is faulty Apple can then not honour the warranty agreement by ways of the item being purchased in an unofficial/illegal store?

     

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      Jay (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:30am

      Re:

      China has a problem with sub contracting to an extent. It's far easier to believe that China can get the parts that are similar to Apple products far easier because they're literally right next door. This is the same country that complains when consumers can't tinker with an iPhone because it's not open enough.

      I'll believe that China is going through a phase of massive growth and the rules have yet to change into the IP quagmire that we in the US currently have.

       

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    cynix, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 4:56am

    Talk about missing the obvious

    "If you're going to put in that much effort, why not just put up your own store?"

    Because, duh, branding is everything and makes you big money. Come on Mike, you're normally sharper than this.

     

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      Kevin (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:40am

      Re: Talk about missing the obvious

      Exactly.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 7:59am

      Re: Talk about missing the obvious

      You have completely missed the point he was trying to make by posing that rhetorical question.

       

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        known coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:19am

        Re: Re: Talk about missing the obvious

        I do not think they have missed the point mike was trying to make. Stealing the brand makes all the hard work more effective. As mike did say in the sentence before

        “…this is the kind of thing where trademark law actually makes sense -- where consumers are at a high likelihood of being confused about the true origin of the goods they're buying. . .. “

        It is kind of like barry bonds. He was a hall of fame baseball player whether he did the steroids or not, the steroids just brought him up another level.

        In this case the hard work and quality product is what keeps the customers coming back and allow them to believe it is an apple store; but the customer would not have walked through the door in the first place, without the Apple brand on the door.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Talk about missing the obvious

          Yeah, you're just explaining with more words what the question would mean if you take it literally. I still think that assuming it's a literal question is to miss the point.

           

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    Derungo (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:18am

    As the first commentor said apple is still making money off this they own the manufacturing process so if they are getting genuine apple products either they are robbing shipping containers or they cut a deal with apple. Its china where you get shot for smoking pot so im betting that they went straight to the factory and cut a deal

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:51am

      Re:

      Last time I heard most electronics are manufactured in China.

      Would not it be very simple to simply go into a side deal with the manufacture to maybe double the quantity bordered and the sell the overage locally in a sudo Apple store.
      Profit would then come from purchasing Apple products below Apple's cost, Apple's corporate profit that would be repatriated to the US, and the local store profit.

       

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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:18am

    How You Can Tell They’re Fake ...

    ... just ask if they sell spare batteries.

     

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      Chargone (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:06am

      Re: How You Can Tell They’re Fake ...

      having managed to so far avoid Apple products, i'm curious: would a fake store say yes or no?

       

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        hobo, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 7:29am

        Re: Re: How You Can Tell They’re Fake ...

        A good fake store would say, "no."

        A bad fake store (with more user-friendly products) would say, "yes."

         

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        Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:58pm

        Re: How You Can Tell They’re Fake ...

        Apple products are notorious for not having user-replaceable batteries.

         

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    Richard (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:42am

    Why Not

    If you're going to put in that much effort, why not just put up your own store?

    Different culture - less individualistic - a westerner would instinctively want their own name on it but in the far east they think differently.

    Remember the expression "a Chinese copy".

     

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    mc, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:48am

    "If you're going to put in that much effort, why not just put up your own store?"

    Come on Mike, are you really making this comment???? It's much easier to start a business with a fanmous brand than a busness from scratch. The owner will not have to invest much in advertisement because the trademark owner already did!!

     

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      btr1701, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 11:17am

      Re:

      > Come on Mike, are you really making this
      > comment???? It's much easier to start a
      > business with a fanmous brand than a busness
      > from scratch.

      I could be wrong, but I took Mike's comment as "Why not just open a legitimate Apple Store franchise?"

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:51am

    China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

    (where nothing matters except the "marginal cost" of a product, see Mike's "can't compete" piece) BUT NOW Mike draws a line (for darling Apple) with /trademark/. Seems inconsistent with views on copyright -- after all, the imagery is merely an image and the associated reputation doesn't actually exist, merely "intellectual property", and Apple isn't /out/ anything by the use...

    So I now consider Mike to have accepted the principle of copyright, argument is only about where to draw the line.

     

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      Richard (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:57am

      Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

      Wrong!

      Trademark is quite different from copyright - even Richard Stallman regards trademark as not objectionable (at least in principle.)

      Trademark infringement is a form of deception (ie fraud) whereas copyright infringement does not require any deception.

      Remember that the victim of trademark infringement is the public - not the trademark holder.

       

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        out_of_the_blue, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:10am

        Re: Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

        More similarities than you admit: do you disagree with the specific similarities I mention?

        But larger, like copyright, trademark (which I'M not against) establishes ownership of an /idea/; in trademark it's generally a physical product line plus the business's reputation from manufacturing that product, but it IS "intellectual property" and IS inconsistent to /simply/ say it's entirely different.

        I'm sure that you don't agree that I should be able to take the works of, oh, JK Rowling, and foist them off on some unsuspecting new people with my own name on them... (Spare me how it'd be discovered, I state that isn't the case so as to illuminate that fraud can exist in copying too.)

         

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          Richard (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:29am

          Re: Re: Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

          But larger, like copyright, trademark (which I'M not against) establishes ownership of an /idea/;

          No it doesn't. It establishes an association between a name or Logo and a person, company or geographical region. What is more that association is only valid within a given field of business, and for one off businesses a given location.

          That is why you can have Lotus cars, Lotus shoes, Lotus S/w and several different Lotus flower restaurants in diffeent towns and there is no conflict.
          Trademark is not violated so long as the public is not misled about the origin of goods and services.

          It is similar to plagiarism in that - if you claim you wrote Hamlet you commit plagiarism but not copyright infringement - whereas if you try to sell bootleg copies of JK Rowling's work, whilst clearly identifying her as the author then you commit copyright infringement but no plagiarism or trademark infringement.

          See the difference yet?

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

          "but it IS "intellectual property" and IS inconsistent to /simply/ say it's entirely different."

          You're begging the question. You are assuming the term 'intellectual property' actually implies a similarity to show, using the term, that there's a similarity.

           

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        Joseph K (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:27am

        Re: Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

        I agree with Richard that Trademark infringement is (at least in many cases) a form of fraud. On the other hand, I don't see why we need separate laws to cover this particular instance of fraud, when there are already plenty of laws on the books that cover fraud. The problem with trademark law is that it covers more than just fraud, and it's regularly abused to attack competitors in cases where there is no fraud whatsoever.

        The public is not always the victim. If you, for example, go out and buy a faux Hermes handbag that you know is a faux Hermes handbag, then you're certainly not worse off, since you know what you're buying and Hermes isn't worse off, since you wouldn't have been able to buy one of their bags anyways. It's a victimless crime.

         

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          Richard (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:33am

          Re: Re: Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

          You'll note that I said trademerk law is not "in principle" objectionable. However I agree that it is often abused (quite commonly by conflating it with copyright law) and has certainly been extended beyond where it needs to be. The knockoff handbags shouldn't be illegal so long as the buyers know that they are knockoffs.

          After all the same things happen with paintings, antiques etc and no- one bothers so long as there is no attempt to deceive.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:39am

          Re: Re: Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

          There is no such thing as a victimless crime. If there was no victim, then by definition there is no crime. The two words cannot coexist together. If a crime is committed, then there IS a victim, albeit not always a readily identifiable one. In your example, however, the crime is being committed by the seller of the bag who is defrauding the consumer by passing off the bag as if it is made by the Hermes manufacturer. Whether I as the consumer know it's fake or not does not make that any less of a crime at all. This is why, for example, street vendors who sell fake merchandise are routinely arrested and/or have their merchandise confiscated. It is a crime to sell a product to a consumer under the pretense that the product is a brand that it is not. Thus the victim is the manufacturer of the real brand who lost out on a sale to a knock-off. Whether that consumer would have purchased the real item or not does not diminish that fact. Simply saying that because the consumer could not afford the real product does not mean the manufacturer has not been victimized. Additionally, if the consumer is NOT aware that he/she has been duped, then that would make them the 2nd victim in your so-called victimless crime.

          Crime is defined (from dictionary.com) as an action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or to the interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.

          Thus if a crime is committed we can reason that the victim is either a person, a group of persons or animal, an institution, organization, company or other such entity - public or private, or indeed morality itself. Including the morality of the perpetrator. There is no such thing as a victimless crime. Just like there is no such thing as free. Someone pays in the end, the middle or the beginning. In a crime, someone or something is hurt in the beginning, the middle or the end.

           

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            Rikuo (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 10:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

            "There is no such thing as a victimless crime. If there was no victim, then by definition there is no crime. The two words cannot coexist together. If a crime is committed, then there IS a victim, albeit not always a readily identifiable one."

            Wrong, there is such a thing as a victimless crime. In my country (Ireland) for example, it's a crime to drive without car insurance.

             

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:20am

      Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

      "Seems inconsistent with views on copyright -- after all, the imagery is merely an image and the associated reputation doesn't actually exist"

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who here has EVER stated the reputation doesn't exist? The position of this site has ALWAYS been that reputation is a scarcity you can sell.

      It's actually why, unless we're all misunderstanding what he was saying, Mike's question that everyone's been piling on is definitely suspect....

       

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      Boost (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:21am

      Re: China heading toward "perfectly competitive"...

      I don't believe anyone around here thinks intellectual property rights should not exist. Most of us believe that they are currently being abused to limit competition. You need an education.

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:01am

    "If you're going to put in that much effort..."

    Was going to skip this, but I'll pile on: Copying doesn't take very much effort, Mike. That's why it's prohibited in academia and by copyright; it generally adds nothing to the culture.

    Those (3 out of 8 so far) who seem startled that Mike asked that really need to check their premises that he's some fount of wisdom.

     

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      Richard (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:19am

      Re: "If you're going to put in that much effort..."

      Copying doesn't take very much effort, Mike. That's why it's prohibited in academia and by copyright; it generally adds nothing to the culture.

      Please don't confuse the prohibition of copying in academia (ie plagiarism) with copyright. Plagiarism is prohibited because it is fraud - not because it is easy.

      If you want to get anywhere in this debate you have to think a bit more precisely about things.

       

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      Alien Bard, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 7:09am

      Re: "If you're going to put in that much effort..."

      Wrong on both counts. Copying is not prohibited in academia, it is encouraged. Nor is the original intent of copyright to prohibit copying, it is intended to prevent unshared profit.

      It may just be that I am colouring what I read with my own opinions, but it seems to me that most people here aren't actually anti-copyright but rather 'anti-copyright-law-abuse'. The difference is in how the IP is actually being applied => to prevent 'vaguely similar' products rather then just 'actual' copies, and against 'personal use' copies rather then 'for profit' copies.

      Attempting to create a similar photograph to the one your hero created should not be a crime unless you start mass producing it for sale.
      Copying a song from the radio/internet is, at worst, a misdemeanor, not a capitol crime.
      Customizing software for yourself or your friends should never be illegal. Even if you sell this as a service it should not be illegal.
      Hopefully these examples are enough to get the point across.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 7:58am

        Re: Re: "If you're going to put in that much effort..."

        Copying a song from the radio/internet is, at worst, a misdemeanor, not a capitol crime.

        No, it's a civil matter. The fact that you think it is criminal at all shows that they're making enough headway to be afraid of.

         

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          Alien Bard, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 10:48am

          Re: Re: Re: "If you're going to put in that much effort..."

          I was attempting to be open-minded and compromise rather then saying what I personally believe. I realize that the idea of compromise is not shared by the extremists, but I prefer not to lump myself in with them. Compromise is what makes a civilization; extremism is what makes a police state.

           

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        Richard (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:21am

        Re: Re: "If you're going to put in that much effort..."

        Copying a song from the radio/internet is, at worst, a misdemeanor, not a capitol crime.

        Unless it was a song released by Capitol Records

         

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      Bob V (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 7:21am

      Re: "If you're going to put in that much effort..."

      Copying is definately encouraged. The cardinal sin in acadamia is failing to cite sources.

       

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      Butcherer79 (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 7:28am

      Re: "If you're going to put in that much effort..."

      There's me thinking academia was a type of nut...

       

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    Jeon, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:03am

    When I first read Mike's comment, it came across to me as in "why don't they open their own(legitimate, franchised) store." I'm not sure if any of the articles mentioned if the pricing was similar or if they are overcharging.
    My guess is that the products are knock-offs. C'mon, didn't anyone hear about the counterfeit toothpaste?

     

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      Richard (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:15am

      Re:

      My guess is that the products are knock-offs.

      In the sense of produced in the same factory by the same workers using the same materials - but just not part of the contract with Apple.

       

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      Nicedoggy, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:37am

      Re:

      You are talking about a place where a knock-off is indistinguishable from the real thing, so I don't think people do care over there.

      Quote:
      The QQ is a part-for-part reproduction of a car known, depending on where it is sold, as the Chevy Spark or the Daewoo Matiz (the genuine vehicle is built as part of a joint venture between General Motors and the Korean company). Sparks are sold all over the world-in the U.S., an upgraded $10,500 variant called the Aveo is cheaper than any other car you can buy. But when the $5,000 QQ first appeared in 2003, GM-and American officials-were astonished. "If you didn't have name tags on the cars, you couldn't tell them apart," said Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin after a 2004 trip to China. "It's such a good knockoff that you can pull the door off the Spark and it fits on the QQ, so close that the seals on the doors match right up."

      Source: http://www.popsci.com/iclone?page=1

      Also some if not all components of the iPhone are full property of Asian countries, Apple does pay royalties to the Chinese already.

      Quote:
      Take, for example, the iPhone. The key to its simple interface is a screen that responds to several touches at once. It makes rapid text entry possible and allows keyboard-and-mouse-type navigation through Web pages and the phone's built-in applications. The screen is built by a German company called Balda, but the technology itself, licensed to Apple's supplier, is neither American nor European. It was originally developed to aid in the rapid input of Asia's huge, character-based alphabets. It comes from China.

      Source: http://www.popsci.com/iclone?page=4

       

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    Iolaire McFadden, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:13am

    Why not create your own store? Because customers want the foreign brands.

    You ask why the company doesn’t just create its own store with its own products – they will not do that because there is the perception that the foreign brands are better. This is exactly why were ever you go on the street you will see extremely cheap products, yet the major malls still are full of foreign brands selling products that the average citizen would need to work for months/years to afford.

     

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    David Muir (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:24am

    If you're going to put in that much effort, why not just put up your own store?

    So everyone jumped on Mike for this line, but I was thinking the same thing. If you're going to copy Apple (or NEC) so perfectly, why not spend the same effort negotiating to open an actual Apple or NEC store.

    I think everyone interpreted Mike to mean 'why not ignore the brand and go solo,' but I interpreted it differently.

     

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      Richard (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:42am

      Re:

      I think the cultural differences explain it. I understand that Mike is really saying that they are taking the deception further than is necessary to make money - but the far Eastern culture does work differently to ours. Our tendency is to be original by default - theirs is to copy by default - in recent years they have been more successful than we have...

      I'm sure the Chinese often say things like "why did that US company go to all that trouble to make a new type of widget when they could have copied the Acme widget and saved themselves the trouble."

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:24am

    Apple seems to more of a religion every year. The best thing that Steve Jobs ever did was market Apple's equipment in such a way that you feel compelled to buy the newer version (even when your older one is fine). The nhe puts a shiny screen on it, and marks it up well beyond what it costs to actually build it (Thank you ifixit).

     

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    Frough (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 8:54am

    Lol @ Reuters

    https://news.fidelity.com/news/news.jhtml?articleid=201107220851RTRSNEWSCOMBINED_TRE76L2K3_1&cat =Top.Investing.RT&IMG=Y

    Reuters has the story and they claim that some "blog" made it famous. Luckily, you actually linked to the blog...

     

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    thedigitari, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 10:44am

    no such thing as a victim less crime

    so if I grow cannabis to smoke for myself?

    wow

    Not all "crimes" are equal (but that shreds you pretty badly)

    I was always told imitation was most sincerest form of flattery

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 3:15pm

    hahaha go China

     

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