If you’ve ever walked past a Real Kung Fu (Zhen Gongfu) fast food joint and thought, ‘Geez, Louise, that logo sure looks a lot like Bruce Lee,’ then you aren’t alone. According to media reports, Bruce Lee Enterprises, which is headed by the famous martial artist’s daughter Shannon Lee, is suing Guangzhou Real Kungfu Catering Management for using Bruce Lee’s likeness without permission or payment.
Channel News Asia, citing Sina.com, has reported that Shannon Lee is seeking RMB210 million in compensation from the fast food company. Additionally, she is asking that Real Kung Fu immediately cease using her father’s likeness and make clear that the company has no relation to Bruce Lee (which it should do for 90 consecutive days).
The lawsuit was filed in Shanghai and is being overseen by the Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People’s Court.
A Real Kung Fu shop on Fumin Lu in Shenzhen in 2018. Image via Wikimedia
The Guangzhou-headquartered restaurant chain has been around since 1990 and claims to operate more than 600 stores across China. It was ranked in the top 10 fast-food companies in China last year by the China Cuisine Association.
Originally called ‘168 Steamed Fast Food Restaurant’ and ‘Seed Double Food,’ according to China.org.cn, the chain rebranded as Real Kung Fu in 2004 after its founder sought the services of a veteran marketing firm.
Since the rebranding, Real Kung Fu has used the image of a man who looks suspiciously like the late Bruce Lee for its logo. The martial artist passed away nearly 30 years prior to the debut of the restaurant’s Lee-like logo, in July of 1973.
See below for a quick visual history of Real Kung Fu’s logos accompanied by images of Bruce Lee:
Image via Entertainment Theory Studio h/t China.org.cn
In a statement posted on Weibo on December 26, the restaurant chain responded to the lawsuit, stating that the logo had long ago been approved by the Trademark Office under China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce.
“We have used the trademarks for 15 years and had encountered legal disputes years ago. But there were no administrative or legal conclusion and verdict to pin us as a violator,” the statement reads, according to China.org.cn. “The fact that we are sued after so many years is confusing to us. We are actively studying the case and preparing for court.”
Interestingly, this is not the first time Shannon Lee has gone after the fast food company. In 2010, according to China.org.cn, she tried suing Real Kung Fu, with China’s Trademark Office finding that the rights to Bruce Lee’s likeness and his English name are entitled to his heirs. Unfortunately for Bruce Lee Enterprises, nothing resulted from the office’s conclusions.
Weibo users have been quick to pounce on the lawsuit, offering up their opinions on Real Kung Fu’s logo and its similarities to Bruce Lee.
“What are you confused about, you have [a portrait of] someone’s father hanging on your restaurant for 15 years and you’re still confused?” wrote one netizen. Another suggested that they would be boycotting the restaurant, writing “Chinese people all know it’s Bruce Lee, you’re shameless and I won’t go to your restaurant again.”
UPDATE (December 28, 2019 at 11.45am CST): This article has been updated to clarify that Bruce Lee’s daughter is named Shannon, not Sharon.
[Cover image via Wikimedia]