WikiLeaks reveals how Apple fought counterfeit products in China

A global security team led by Apple came down on pirated iPhones and iPods in China, according to US Embassy documents recently released by WikiLeaks. The anti-piracy team was setup over three years ago, but details have only been discovered now.

The 2008 cable said Apple had hired ex-Pfizer employees (details below) as the leaders of its anti-piracy squad. The cable was virtually hidden amongst 134 000 diplomatic messages which were recently released by WikiLeaks. The full cable can be viewed here, but the most important information is as follows:

As amazing as it seems, computer maker Apple Inc. had no global security team — including inside China — until March 2008, when they hired away the team from Pfizer that formed and led a multi-year crackdown on counterfeit Viagra production in Asia. Now with Apple, Don Shruhan, based in Hong Kong has, taken the first basic step of registering the company’s trademarks in China and Hong Kong and is targeting retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and online vendors to take a bite out of China’s counterfeit iPod and iPhone production.Early evidence suggests nearly 100 percent of Apple products in unauthorised mainland markets are knock- offs, while factories in Guangdong province are exporting enough counterfeits to single-handedly supply the world with fake Apple products.

John Theriault, a former FBI agent, was recruited by Pfizer as chief of security before he was hired by Apple. Don Shruhan worked directly under him at Pfizer and is now Apple’s director of security in Hong Kong.

It was not a security team who discovered the counterfeit network, but a team of Indian officials who first discovered that batches of fake Apple products had been shipped from China to Hong Kong.

Despite governmental intervention, China remains as the world’s largest source of counterfeit goods. Apple only has four stores in the country, but many more fake vendors exist.

In recent months, a number of fake Apple stores have been discovered in the China. Twenty-two of which were discovered in the city of Kunming, where a Western blogger uncovered a store so convincing that a number of its employees believed they actually worked for the global tech giant.



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.