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TheStreet Open House

The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Feb. 17

5. Apple's China Troubles

Check it out! Chinese authorities are finally getting tough and taking illicit Apple (AAPL) merchandise off the shelves. So let's all stop knocking them as being unmotivated when it comes to property rights, shall we?

Of course, if they would only go after the knock-offs as opposed to the real thing then we could stop knocking them altogether.

Chinese cops spent the weekend yanking authentic Apple iPads from stores in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, because of a legal dispute with Shenzhen Proview Technology, a domestic company claiming to own the "iPad" name. Apple purchased the rights to use the iPad trademark from Proview's Taipei unit in 2009 -- at least it thought it did -- for a whopping payment of $54,616.

Proview's Shenzhen-based unit, however, registered the trademark in 2001 and maintains it reserved the rights to use it in China, according to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency. The company's lawyer Xie Xianghui has asked authorities in more than 20 cities to destroy promotional materials that allegedly violate its trademark.

"We haven't made a demand for economic compensation. We will pursue it through another channel," says Xie, whose attacks ironically arrive at the same time Apple is seeking a court injunction against Samsung, alleging that it's Galaxy Nexus smartphone infringes on four Apple patents.

Speaking of channels, maybe Xie should turn his TV dial to old Seinfeld episodes, because Jerry would surely say of this situation: It's Bizarro World George! Bizarro I tell you.

Yes, the retailing world has been turned on its head. Canal Street merchants in New York's Chinatown are getting tagged for selling luxury goods with phony tags. Meanwhile, the country that barely blinks at bootlegged Hollywood movies and outlawed copies of Microsoft (MSFT) Office is now pouncing on copyright pirates.

Or at least the ones plundering its own companies that is.

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