According to The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement (TRIPS)), counterfeit goods are any goods, including packing bearing without permission, a trademark which is matching the trademark of other genuinely registered companies and products (Connor, 2011). The new counterfeit trademark is designed such that it resembles closely the original trademark of the patent original genuine patent holder. It thus infringes the legal rights of the trademark’s owner in question under the law of the country of importation.
Black Market Definition
Black market, on the other hand, can be defined as an economic activity that takes place outside the direct government authorized channels. The market develops to attract consumers avoiding expensive products with high costs resulting from the government imposed price control or taxes. Counterfeit goods and black market are not new developments in China. Counterfeit electronics are taking the centre stage in China’s economy. Cell phones that look like Nokia and Motorola are increasingly finding access to Chinese markets. The recent discovery of fake Apple Stores in Kunming, Southwest province, is one of such examples which continue to raise great concerns.
Apple Stores in Kunming, China. Apple stores are known to be suppliers of computers, music, film, wireless industries’ accessories including iPhone and iPads. They have a legacy of being one of the largest suppliers of tech-materials in the United States. China is on the spotlight of manufacturing and selling counterfeit goods of the same company. An American blogger reported having found an entire Apple store in Kunming. The products they were selling looked like Apple products. So many other features resembled Apple Company designs. For example, the staircase was designed in the way original Apple stores are designed. Moreover, the employees had blue t-shirts on and Apple name tags around their necks similar to the dress code of real Apple employees (Connor, 2011). The buyers were tricked into the black market and were quick to buy counterfeit products without suspicion or worry about the underlying consequences for infringing intellectual property laws.
Although the disguised Apple store in China resembled real Apple stores in the U.S, the designers failed to properly design the staircases making the walls resemble real Apple store’s staircases. The normal Apple store does not write the name “Apple store” but uses glowing iconic fruit (Connor, 2011). The establishment of fake Apple store in Kunming clearly shows how the managers have ignored the intellectual property rights enjoyed by the real Apple store owners and used this to propagate counterfeit sales of counterfeit goods in the black market.
The U.S blogger, Bird Abroad, adds that the products sold at the disguised Apple stores looked so real that even the staff thought they were working for Steve Jobs, Apple store owners. The blogger was first convinced that the store was a real Apple store. Counterfeit copies of Iphones and Ipads were available as could be noticed from the pictures posted in the blog (Connor, 2011).
The production and sales of the counterfeit Apple products by Chinese Store in Kunming without legal acceptance of Steve Jobs’ company is equivalent to counterfeiting, creation and promotion of black market for Apple products. A keen look at the Apple website reveals that the company has no store in Kunming, China (Connor, 2011). Further, two more fake Apple stores were found in the same vicinity. Chinese government made an investigation on the existence of the stores and their licensing. This investigation led to immediate suspension of operation privileges of the store owners and prompt audit of all stores operating electronic products in China in a move likely to initiate war on counterfeiting and promotion of black market in China.
In conclusion, counterfeiting and black market call for full enforcement of international trade laws if such are to be eradicated. This would enable patent owners to enjoy their rights and privileges while weeding out conmen who make money out of the already built reputation for supplying for quality products.