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Apple Battles Knockoff Products In New York

Apple is moving aggressively to shut down stores in the U.S. moving fake iPod, iPad, and iPhone accessories bearing the company's logo.

Apple iPad 2 3G Teardown
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Apple iPad 2 3G Teardown
When you're the top dog, everybody wants a piece of you. After fighting its way back from the brink of oblivion to become the most valuable company in the world, Apple has been learning this lesson the hard way. Last month, news emerged of the presence of 22 phony-baloney stores doing business under the company's trademark in China, and now Reuters reports that Apple is aggressively combating the sale of knock-off products on American shores.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Apple has accused two stores in Flushing, New York--Apple Story and Fun Zone, Inc.--of infringing its trademark through the sale of unauthorized iPod, iPad, and iPhone accessories bearing the company's logo. While the complaint was originally filed on July 25, it is only coming to light now, after Reuters requested access to filed documents from the court.

The court filing from Apple stated that company representatives visited these stores on multiple occasions over the course of several weeks, according to Reuters. During those visits, Apple representatives purchased an assortment of products with packaging designed to duplicate the appearance of official Apple merchandise, even bearing the familiar "Designed by Apple in California" designation.

Apple is no stranger to knock-off products, both legitimate and nefarious. The company has often argued that other mainstream technology products--including Microsoft Windows--constitute a copying of Apple's work, and Apple lawyers have been perpetually embroiled in patent infringement cases over the years. Meanwhile, clear examples of lookalike iPods, iPhones, and iPads are easy to come by, particularly for anyone walking down Beijing's Silk Alley or the Chinatown district of any U.S. city on a weekend afternoon. Ordinarily, though, most copycats lack the temerity to actually emblazon Apple's logo and trademark on their products and packaging.

It's unclear how widespread these fake Apple accessories may be, but buyers and resellers would both be wise to point a skeptical eye at merchandise coming from less than reputable sources. For retailers, Apple's message is clear: Sell Apple knock-offs, and we'll come after you. For buyers, the best bet is to stick with trusted stores that get their inventory straight from Apple.

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