By now you’ve already heard the stories of fake Apple stores in Kunming and Chongqing. Although many criticized such copyright infringements, equally as many were impressed by the ability to shanzhai or copy not just a product but a whole store!

But following on from the discovery, unauthorized sellers of Apple products in Beijing’s Zhonnguancun have been ordered to cover up Apple logos, as the city’s ‘quality’ watchdog ‘attempts’ to tighten control over the massive electronics distribution centre. It is ‘strange’ however that they would only stop at forcing stores to cover up a logo, instead of closing the whole store. But of course that would put revenue making in jeopardy for everyone.

It has been reported that officials from Beijing’s quality and technical supervision bureau will prohibit unauthorized retailers from using the Apple logo or using any brand name associated with Apple, such as “Apple authorized reseller” or “Apple direct retailer”. But more likely, the drill will be a public scare tactic with temporary frequent inspections with weak enforcement. Already, some unauthorized Apple shop owners have merely covered logos up with blank sheets of paper while they wear fake Apple t-shirts. One owner has even admitted, “If you come back a few days later, everything will be back as it was.”

It is estimated that there are 50 Apple product vendors, many of them suspected of being unauthorized. But Apple China has shown little response to the obvious copyright infringements. Perhaps they are too busy trying to manage the overflowing amount of customers fighting to buy legitimate products from the Sanlitun Village Apple store.

Unauthorized re-sellers have a clear advantage over authorized ones because they offer smuggled real products called ‘shui huo’, at cheaper prices. These products come from across international borders illegally, by ship to avoid customs tax.

I would suggest enforcing a new rule for unauthorized Apple resellers to change all logos to a new fruit. I like mangos. 

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.

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