WikiLeaks: Apple slow to counter iPhone piracy

A cable from whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks has revealed that Apple was slow to counter the piracy threat posed by the widespread counterfeiting in China of best-selling such as the iPod, due to the company's lack of a global security team.

The cable, sent by the US embassy in Beijing, reveals that it wasn't until March, 2008 that the Cupertino outfit hired employees from drug giant Pfizer to investigate the illegal trade - and it wasn't until until September that year that the normally litigious company registered its trademarks in China and Hong Kong. The team from Pfizer had achieved earlier success in its crackdown on illegal production of counterfeit Viagra pills in mainland China.

Reports indicate that nearly all 'Apple' products traded in mainland China are knock-offs - and that Apple is still failing to keep a lid on piracy, after a recent blog post even revealed the existence of a fake Apple store in Kunming. Within a month, a probe had revealed as many as 22 bogus outlets in the city.

The cable, labelled as unclassified but 'sensitive' by US authorities, was uncovered by news agency CNN among a haul of diplomatic memos recently released by the activist group.

According to the cable, one of the Pfizer team hired by Apple, Don Shruhan, attributed the flood of fakes to independent operators without links to Apple's official manufacturing channel - but admitted that moulds used to make unofficial iPods and iPhones could have come from licensed manufacturers.