Chinese sports manufacturer Fujian Tingfeilong Sports Goods Co.
Ltd., recently launched a sports clothing and footwear brand under
the name "Uncle Martian." But for their unoriginal logo,
the launch of the brand would not have otherwise captured media
headlines. Photos from Uncle Martian's launch went viral as the
brand's logo was revealed.
Image source: Uncle Martian's
Weibo social media account screen shot
and Under Armour website
Uncle Martian is denying allegations that its logo bears an
uncanny resemblance to the well known US-based sports apparel and
equipment company Under Armour, whose brand name and logo are
registered trademarks in the US, China and other international
The similarities between Uncle Martian and Under Armour
reportedly go beyond the use of the nearly identical looking logos.
The transliterated Chinese name of Uncle Martian, which
phonetically reads as "an-ke-ma-ding" is not too
different sounding from Under Armour's brand name in Chinese
"an-de-ma." Uncle Martian claims that it is focused on
developing its own brand, and further, that its brand has been
legitimized by approval from China's Administration for
Industry and Commerce.
This isn't the first time a Chinese company has apparently
tried to piggy-back off of the reputation and popularity of an
established North American brand. Other sports apparel brands such
as Adidas, Nike and Michael Jordan's Air Jordan line have all
faced copycat brands in China and sought legal action to protect
their intellectual property rights. For example, Michael Jordan
sued Qiaodan Sports in 2012 and sought to de-register marks which
used his transliterated name "Qiaodan," his jersey number
23 and a similar jumpman logo. Two lower court decisions ruled
against Jordan stating that the "Qiaodan" name did not
definitively point to Michael Jordan and that registered logo did
not infringe Air Jordan's famous jumpman logo. The case was
appealed and heard by the Supreme People's Court in April; the
verdict is currently pending.
Although trademark and copyright laws exist in China, the
country is often criticized for being lax when it comes to
enforcement. There are obvious questions as to the level of foreign
brand protection in China, and the decision in the Jordan case may
set the pace for future suits. Under Armour has stated that it
aware of Uncle Martian's logo and will "vigorously pursue
all business and legal courses of action."
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