The crackdown began on August 2, according to a post from the Kunming government. All stores were ordered to stop using Apple trademarks by August 10.
The goverment announced that all 22 stores have complied with its requests, although China Daily reports that compliance was sluggish just days before the deadline, “with some owners merely covering their Apple logos with blank sheets of paper, or just covering part of the Apple logo.”
Reports of fake Apple stores in Kunming arose last month after a traveler in the city wrote a blog post about discovering three fake stores within a time span of a few days.
Despite a few clues that they were fake, the stores were built to match the look and feel of Apple’s retail outlets. The signage, light wood floors and tables, white walls, glowing Apple logos and Geniuses in blue t-shirts and large lanyard name tags almost checked out, but the blogger noticed a few shortcomings, including the lack of names on name tags, low quality building materials and in one case, a spelling error — “Apple Stoer.”
The Kunming government agency says that it will set up a complaint hotline in order to prevent future instances of trademark infringement, China Daily reports.
Apple is a highly sought after brand in China, but only has four official stores in the country — two in Beijing and two in Shanghai. One recent study pointed China out as the second largest market for downloads from Apple’s App Store. Meanwhile, the number one market — the U.S. — has 236 Apple stores.
The high demand — as evidenced by the iPad 2 selling out within four hours in Beijing this May — is certainly a catalyst for con artists looking to fill a need where Apple isn’t stepping in. The sheer number of fake Apple stores, though, has caught the company’s attention. With such a booming market, maybe it’s time for Apple to expand its presence in China after its trademark battles subside.