The Japanese mascot Kumamom has gained worldwide fame because of his cute appearance and charitable good works. He also has a sizable following in China, who happened to notice a strikingly similar character on a Chinese variety show last month.
No, that’s not Kumamom, that is “Lucky Bear,” the mascot for a show broadcast on Anhui television called “Get Lucky! Win! Win! Win!” (好运赚赚赚). Images from the show went viral last month on Chinese social media, with netizens blasting the bear as nothing more than a blatant and shameful rip-off.
While it does have dark brown fur instead of black, the shanzhai Kumamom shares the same eyes, ears, red cheeks and even eyebrows as the genuine article; though “Lucky Bear” does at least seem to be made of lower-quality material:
To make matters worse, the real Kumamom was unavailable to defend himself last month, withdrawing from the public eye following the deadly earthquakes that struck his homeland, the Kumamoto Prefecture, killing 49 people. Chinese netizens have condemned the show for its inopportune timing:
“The real bear is at a disaster area, where people were devastated by a earthquake, and you do this kind of shit? How shameless can you be?” one netizen wrote.
“Not only is it shanzhai, but it looks so ugly too. Really, I’m dying of shame,” another wrote.
“We can’t let our Japanese friends know about this!” another netizen urged.
Unfortunately, they have heard. Japanese TV and newspapers have ran reports about the copycat Kumamom. A popular Kumamom Weibo account has even weighed in to castigate the Chinese TV show, as it has continued to roll out “Lucky Bear,” even after the online scandal. “You are still carrying out this blatant copyright infringement, where are your morals? You’ve already been exposed on Japanese media, you had better shape up.”
While Kumamoto Prefecture does not charge for using Kumamon’s likeness, interested parties do have to agree to use the bear to promote or help Kumamoto Prefecture. “Get Lucky! Win! Win! Win!” would not appear to be doing so.
Of course, we could be wrong. This has been a hallmark time for copyright infringement in China. Last month, Apple lost its fourth appeal in a bizarre case against a Chinese technology company which markets its leather goods (such as mobile phone cases) with an “IPHONE” trademark.
Also last month, China’s newest shoe brand Uncle Martian launched, with netizens noticing that the company’s logo looks strikingly similar to that of the American sportswear brand Under Armour.
[Images via NetEase / Weibo]