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Copy Pizza?



It is the stuff of legends; stories that everyone hears before they even set foot in China. The copycat brigade. Afterall, one cannot walk down Shanghai’s celebrated Nanjing Dong Lu without being accosted with the words, “copy watch?” and nowadays, “selfie stick?”

From Rolex to Louis Vuitton, from Lego to Transformers, nothing is safe from the mastermind conterfeiter, whose operations, despite the best intentions of the Chinese government to stamp out such practices, remain for now undiscovered in the deepest darkest reaches of Gansu or Guanxi. As quickly as the authorities shut down the illegal factories, new ones are quick to spring up.

For most of the time, we remain largely anethetised from the theft of Intellectual Property Rights (unless, that is, you are a lawyer). What’s a few bucks less for a company such as Apple who is rolling in it anyway?

Sometimes, however, it hits a little too close to home. Last year, one of the sister websites to this very publication, www.hellonanjing.net, also fell victim to the copycats. The local operator simply bought up a similar domain and then set about taking advantage of the good name that the website had made for itself since its founding in 2009, while passing themselves off as “Hello Nanjing”. Needless to say, the general public was confused, to the point of asking, “Does this person even work for you?”

The food and beverage industry is one of the worst hit. Having learnt the secrets of a particular cuisine at a decent western restaurant, it is a common occurrence for local chefs to take off and set up their own operation that is a virtual copy of their former employers. That said, they mostly have the good sense to not take the name as well as the recipes.

Some, on the other hand, will whip the very building out from under you. Pisa Pizza opened its doors in 2009, and was an immediate hit with the expat community, serving up world-class pizza in an informal atmosphere. More recently, its popularity proved enough to open a second location in Aqua City.

Fast track to today, and it’s all change; Pisa Pizza has been renamed Pissa (by putting the two words together) and has moved across the street, the Chinese whispers going that with its lease up, the property’s landlord was hesitant to continue when they could be having a slice of the pizza pie by going into the business themselves. Cue a quick logo akin to Pizza Hut and a menu that’s identical to the former Pisa Pizza’s.

And who’s to know the difference? A party of ten recently made a reservation at Pissa, only to turn up and dine in the wrong restaurant!

But my favourite remains the story of urban myth that relates to the copying of a jumbo jet.

The story goes that the mainland somehow managed to get its hands on a Boeing 747. This is apparently back in the ‘80s. The jet, the story goes, was painstakeningly dissassembled. Eventually, tens of thousands of pieces lay strewn across an aircaft hanger. Each was meticulous copied. Then, two seemingly identical, aircraft were born, and reborn.

The two jets began their take-off rolls down the runway, with the original soaring majestically into the sunset. The copy, however, did not fare so well, having been made of steel, not aluminium.

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