The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

How Chinese Business Is Ruining China’s Reputation …

Next week there will be a post about scam advertising.

For those who don’t know what it means, it basically refers to bullshit certain agencies put out in a bid to look creative despite the fact it only runs once [often in some regional market where the cost – and audience – is minute] and the ‘idea’ is done for a client with no money and no chance of ever being able to bring it to market at scale.

But that’s next week, because today I’m going to talk about business scam.

The bullshit certain opportunists do in a bid to ride a commercial opportunity despite bringing nothing new to the table.

And I mean nothing new.

Because they basically steal from those who have done it well before them.

Have a look at this …

You might think that logo looks familiar – and it does – except it isn’t for Under Armour, oh no, it’s for China’s newest sports brand, Uncle Martian.

I kid you fucking not.

But it gets worse than just ‘borrowing’ from UA, they borrow from everyone – NIKE, New Balance, NYC and even Captain bloody America – which you can check out for yourself by clicking here to see images from their launch event.

I hoped China had got past this sort of behaviour.

It seemed like it.

Sure, many were still being ‘inspired’ by other, more successful brands … but whereas once they stopped at duplication, now we were seeing many develop their own innovations, things that moved them from copycats to creators to, arguably, pioneers.

But Uncle Martian have just shown the bad old ways still exist.

The ones who look for shortcuts.

The ones who don’t care about authenticity or quality or individuality.

The ones who do it just because they think they can get away with it.

But what makes it even worse is that this sort of behaviour doesn’t just affect Uncle Martian, but all of China.

What the people behind this copycat brand have done, is give everyone and anyone who mistrusts China, even more ammunition … from Donald Trump to, sadly, a shitload of people from China.

I know the Government have a policy of wanting to keep revenue in the country rather than see it flow out to international brands, but letting this sort of thing happen is hurting them far more than they may imagine.

But worse, it adds another obstacle for young Chinese entrepreneurs to try and overcome, because they will either be prejudiced against by venture capitalists, or told they should be copying rather than creating to drive the quickest return on investment possible.

I know I am not from here, but the launch of Uncle Martian has utterly disappointed me, because frankly China deserves better than this and is way, way, way better than this.

34 Comments so far
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you are fucking shitting me.

Comment by andy@cynic

Sadly, no. I will be very interested to see where this goes – either legally or commercially. I will also be interested to see if the Chinese Government do take a stand, at least on the multitude of copyright infringements that Uncle Martian have just committed.

Comment by Rob

theyve even ripped off fred fucking perry for that logo. fucking hell, theyve got balls or they just dont give a fuck. im fucking impressed and appalled at the same fucking time. what do your nike owners have to say about it. havent these fuckers ripped off their shoe design? fuck me. even bullshit governments arent that fucking obvious.

Comment by andy@cynic

I hadn’t noticed that. Jesus … they’ve gone for the whole set. They’ll probably bring out a tennis range that uses a logo that’s an amalgamation of Dunlop and Slazenger.

Comment by Rob

i know you only have one fucking eye, but use it next time.

Comment by andy@cynic

Wow. Just wow.

Comment by George

Uncle Martian will soon be on the shelves of the local Walmart since they cannot find anything in America.

Comment by surrender884

I’m guessing they can get away with it because copyright laws in China are hard to enforce as Michael Jordan found out. Haven’t the guys behind the China Jordan ripoff just IPO?

It can’t be long before Uncle Martian launch their Bugs Bunny range of sneakers. As you said Rob, this sort of thing does China’s reputation even more harm. I

Comment by Pete


Read the Chinese courts justification for not granting Michael Jordan rights over his name – it’s the sort of ridiculous justification you would see in a 1980’s Steven Seagal movie about a small town gangster who makes sure everyone works in his best interests, including the local judge – whose daughter has been kidnapped and will not be returned unless he rules in favour of the thug.

Though the Jordan brand is enormous here so the imitators are appealing to those who aspire to the real thing but can’t quite afford it. Yet.

So while that means a loss of revenue now, long term it signals continued growth, which is why we made this spot for him this year.


Comment by Rob

If they’re going to invest that much in that spot, they must be happy with their China business.

Comment by Pete

An excellent post Robert based on a disappointing development.

Comment by Lee Hill

at least these fuckers brought their scam to market. adfuckers only bring their scam to cannes.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s a positive in a story that I thought had no positives at all.

Comment by Rob

you are fucking nothing without me.

Comment by andy@cynic

Your disappointment highlights how much you care about the country you live in. Maybe even more than the government.

Comment by George

I think that’s a bit over-the-top, but I care a lot about this country. It’s misunderstood and often looked down on and I hate that – both because it’s an amazing place and it would make my professional life easier, ha – which is why this sort of thing pisses me off because it validates all that prejudice and sets things further back.

Especially – as I said – for the young entrepreneurs who have so much to give and now so many more obstacles to get over.

Comment by Rob

The best thing China can do is enforce Under Armour’s IP, assuming they properly registered it. This requires UA taking it through the correct channels and dealing with bureaucratic nonsense. The good news for UA is there is some precedent there … (bonus for you … it wasn’t the Chinese side that was the bad guy):

Comment by Bryan

Yes, and I’m sure they will try but as we have seen with other cases, legal rights in one nation doesn’t translate to legal rights in China. It will be interesting to watch.

Comment by Rob

You are right. And if any company goes to China expecting the Chinese to play by the rules of their home country they deserve the 88 different ways they will be fucked. I think its important when any Western company goes in to understand how the games will be played and the risks associated, but also the ways to mitigate that risk or the recourse in a doomsday scenario. Any other way is just asking for trouble.

If things are properly registered locally (that means not trying to enforce your US trademark in China) — there are channels to go through that are effective.

Alternatively they could do it the “local” way and send in the thugs with a message for Uncle Martian.

British company won suit in 2010 over Chinese ripoffs:

Disney getting special Disney treatment in 2015:

Comment by Bryan

I’ll add that it sucks for any startup that is trying to build a market in the US and someone in China goes “thats a good idea” and registers their IP to lay claim to it … Makes you think that if there is even a tiny chance that in the future your startup will go to China the best time to register your IP there was 3 years before you came up with the idea

Comment by Bryan

I have seen first hand companies who do it well – copyright management – and companies who do it badly and sadly, the majority are in the latter camp rather than the former.

There’s an old NY Detective that has coffee where I get mine every morning who is paid by big corporations to find copyright infringement. I remember asking him what it was like and his reply was telling, “It’s a job for life”.

I’m not saying this situation is unique to China – far from it – but the way the Government aids copyright infringement is ultimately working against itself. People may not see that because with 1.4 billion people, foreign companies want a slice of that pie, but eventually it may end up being a ineffective way to drive growth and profit, which sounds mad – but we’re already seeing some departures from China for that very reason.

Amazing times …

Comment by Rob

Netizens are upset too from the comments left on their Weibo account.

Comment by Andy


Comment by An otter.

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‘Intellectual property’.

That’s another of those expressions for which there is no direct Mandarin translation …

I’ll add it to the list, alongside ‘preventive maintenance’, ‘quality assurance’ and ‘human resources’.

Comment by Ian Gee

Love this post Rob, I certainly won’t be buying anything from this uncle from the outer space anytime soon, ever…

Comment by Freeman

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