I was reading on a new Chinese company called "UnderMartian" which seems to be openly ripping off of UnderArmour and not even trying to hide it. UnderArmour has stated they will attempt to pursue all "legal action" possible, which has raised my question.

Since this is a company in a different country, to what extent is even possible for UnderArmour to enforce or bring legal recourse to UnderMartian? Can a United States (I believe it is) company even have the right to say what China can/can't do in terms of copyright? If so, then what about Didi Kuadi (the Uber competitor) in China, TanTan (the Chinese Tinder) and companies related do and why have they not attempted legal action (though I can understand that these are a far more stretch).

2 Answers 2


China is a signatory to the Berne Convention which gives foreign authors the same copyright as local authors.

However, Chinese companies have a huge (read nigh on insurmountable) home court advantage; basically they never lose. This is one of the risks of doing business in China.

Foreign countries can take action in their local jurisdiction to stop the breaches happening there.


The violation in the case of UnderArmour/UnderMartian would likely be in trademark rather than copyright by using a deceptively similar mark at most, although the two might be different enough to avoid being a trademark violation as well.

In general, you can't copyright a clothing design.

In general:

What does copyright protect?

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section "What Works Are Protected?"

How is a copyright different from a patent or a trademark?

Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.

Copying an idea is not a copyright violation or a trademark violation - ideas can be patented but it is unlikely that Uber or Tinder would have internationally enforceable patents over their basic business concepts, although they might have patents over some fine details of their software designs.

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