At last count, there have been roughly 192.6 million news stories written in English (so far this week) about the fake Apple store in Kunming. Articles have appeared in all of the wire services and major papers, every tech, China and IP blog on the planet, the broadcast news shows, and most likely the Vatican newspaper and President Obama’s daily CIA briefing.
This is shaping up to be the biggest China IP story of the year, and as such it’s pissing me off so much that the little device I use at home to monitor my blood pressure just emailed me and said, “Dude, you need to chill. Seriously.” I didn’t even know the damn thing was networked.
What’s my problem with this story? Well, you can judge for yourself:
It looks almost exactly like a sleek Apple store. Sales assistants in blue T-shirts with the company’s logo chat with customers. Signs advertising the iPad 2 hang on the white walls. Outside, the famous logo sits next to the words “Apple Store’’ – one of the few clues that the whole thing is a fake.
China, long known for producing counterfeit consumer gadgets, software and brand name clothing, has reached a new piracy milestone – fake Apple stores. (AP)
Since this blog covers China, and in particular intellectual property issues in China, you might be wondering why I didn’t write about this story when it “broke.” Simple answer: this ain’t news.
Sorry to be the buzz kill here, but this isn’t the first fake Apple store in China. It might be the best fake Apple store so far, but I know for example that there has been at least one fake Apple store here in Beijing for many years. It never occurred to me that I should call the New York Times and give them a scoop, though.
Here in China, we have fake Apple stores, fake McDonald’s restaurants, fake Starbucks coffee shops (a close friend of mine even defended one of them in a now famous trademark case in Shanghai), and so on. Good lord, this is an old story. The Supreme Court here even released an entire judicial interpretation on this (i.e. trade dress) a few years back in response to this problem.
So no, I didn’t really think twice about discussing this one, and I have been more and more surprised each day this week as my Inbox has gradually filled with these breathless fake Apple store news flashes.
WTF? Several people have suggested to me that the media attention can be attributed to the high quality nature of the fake. In this instance, even the staff working at the store thought they were employed by Apple.
OK, yeah, that is mildly interesting. But I could come up with a lot of examples of other amazingly good fakes in China. Again, that’s not exactly news.
Although it’s not exactly a thrilling observation, I tend to think that this story has legs mostly because it has to do with Apple. I’d love to do a poll of folks in the media to determine how many of them are Mac fetishists, how many own iPhones or iPads, etc. Pure speculation on my part, but I bet the number is high.
The religion of Mac is a powerful one, and anything to do with Apple or its creepy CEO is an automatic hit with the press and the online commentariat. (Factoid: 87% of all blogs, Tweets, and social media links and status updates are related in some way to rumors about Apple product releases.)
Usually, I try to ignore the cult of Mac. I look the other way, and it doesn’t bother me. When product stories worm their way into my Inbox, I delete them with few complaints, knowing that it’s just the price of having Net access, subscribing to RSS feeds, and using social media. Fine.
But when this shit pushes its way onto the China IP stage? Hell no. That’s my turf, nerds. Keep your stinking monkey paws out of my business.
Enjoy your weekend.