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Posted at 12:47 PM ET, 08/02/2011

China now has fake Ikea store: when will we all stop copying?


In 2006, Starbucks won a legal case against a Chinese company with a chain of coffee shops called Xingbake, which translates from the Chinese as Starbucks. ( Image via sinosplice on Flickr )
Less than a month after a fake Apple store popped up in Kunming, China, a lookalike store of the Scandinavian furniture store Ikea has turned up in Kunming as well, Reuters reports.

11 Furniture copied Ikea's blue and yellow color scheme, mock-up rooms, miniature pencils, and beloved rocking chair designs. The store even has a cafeteria-style restaurant that serves Chinese-style braised minced pork and eggs in place of Ikea's Swedish meatballs and salmon.

(Note: China’s English language news site China Daily took down a story it had written about the fake Ikea store today. The reason for the removal is unclear.)

But while the fake Apple store pretended to actually be selling Apple products, the fake Ikea store is operating under a different name. It’s really just a lookalike.

This explains why several fake Apple stores were shut down, but many others like the Ikea store will be allowed to stay open — they don’t violate existing loose copyright laws.

There are dozens more “fake” stores in China, according to Business Insider. These include lookalike Nike stores that use the swoosh but go by the name “Nibe,” a fast food chain that uses McDonald’s yellow arches, Disney-like characters at a theme park that look almost exactly like Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse, and a coffee shop that went by the Chinese word for Starbucks and used a similar logo (see above).

Some say that the emergence of all these copycats shows that China can’t — or won’t — innovate.

But don’t these kind of stores sound familiar?

Over two years spent in India, I think I witnessed at least a dozen knock offs of fast food chains and sports stores in various cities. Stateside, don’t tell me you haven’t seen a number of variations on 7/11, with names like 11/11 and 24/11. Or that some Microsoft stores don’t look strangely similar to an Apple store.

It extends past stores.

Companies have long copied one another’s products, colors, and campaigns.

Hollywood movies copy each another, and then Bollywood movies copy them.

When will we all stop copying and start innovating? When copyright laws get tighter? When governments crack down? Or when there is a consumer backlash against it? (No, I say, I will not wear Nibe swoosh shoes!)

The answer is unclear, but for now, perhaps we’d do well to remember that innovating is not dead. And when you need your daily dose of innovations, check out the Washington Post’s new On Innovations blog. Some of the innovations they share will blow you away.

By  |  12:47 PM ET, 08/02/2011

 
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