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Apple's Anti-Counterfeiting Efforts in Asia Hampered by Uncooperative Authorities
The technology giant eventually organized a team in March 2008 to curtail the explosion of knockoff iPods and iPhones, according to an electronic memo from the Beijing embassy dated September 2008.The reports note that Apple's efforts have been led by vice president for global security John Theriault, a former FBI special agent and Pfizer vice president who was hired by Apple after he led a campaign against production of counterfeit prescription drugs. Theriault was joined at Apple by his Pfizer associate Don Shruhan, who now serves as a director with Apple's security team in Hong Kong.
Yet, three years after Apple moved to crack down on widespread counterfeiting and put pressure on China, progress has been slow. Gadget piracy isn't a high priority for the Chinese government, the U.S. reports and experts say.
Counterfeit Apple store in Kunming, China
Despite putting the anti-counterfeiting task force together, Apple has had only limited success as Chinese authorities have been reluctant to respond to Apple's requests for assistance. Apple has tried to convince authorities to take a more active role by citing the potential dangers of exploding batteries in counterfeit products and the loss of tax revenue associated with the knockoff products, but Chinese authorities have cited their own reasons for not pursuing the claims.
The arguments weren't very effective. China's government declined to investigate a facility in March 2009 that was manufacturing imitation Apple laptops because it threatened local jobs, says a cable dated April 2009. A different arm of China's government scrapped plans for a raid on an electronics mall in the Guangdong province because it could have driven away shoppers, the cable says.Last month, several counterfeit Apple retail stores in China gained significant publicity after being highlighted by a popular blog. Two of those stores were closed over permit issues, but dozens more stores have since been discovered. Apple has also sought to crack down on knockoff products in the United States, having recently filed suit against a pair of businesses in New York City selling such goods.