09 Dec Michael Jordan Wins Rights To His Chinese Name In Trademark Battle
China’s Supreme People’s Court has officially ruled in favor of basketball legend Michael Jordan in a long-running trademark case against a sports company which traded under a name identical to Jordan’s Chinese name, Qiaodan.
The Chinese firm had shown “malicious intent” by registering trademarks for Jordan’s Chinese name, the judgement said. The ruling invokes Qiaodan Sports right to use Jordan’s name in Chinese characters, but it can continue to use the Romanized version.
Chief judge Tao Kaiyuan said there was an established link between Jordan and the Chinese characters for “Qiaodan,” which are commonly used by the public when referring to the former basketball player, meaning that Jordan was entitled to protection under the Trademark Law.
In a statement, Jordan, who’s also chief executive officer of Nike’s Brand Jordan Division, said that Chinese fans and consumers had always known him by the name Qiaodan.
“Chinese consumers deserve to know that Qiaodan Sports and its products have no connection to me,” Jordan said. “Nothing is more important than protecting your own name, and today’s decision shows the importance of that principle.”
The legal battle dates back to 2012 when Jordan first sued the company, which is based in the south-eastern Fujian province. Jordan argued that it had damaged his legal rights to his name and asked that Qiaodan Sports’ trademark registrations be removed.
Lower courts had ruled in favor of the Chinese company in 2014. At the time, the court stated Qiaodan “is the translation of a common family name in China and does not necessarily refer to the basketball star”, Xinhua news agency said. That decision was upheld by another court the following year. Representatives of the former Chicago Bulls player then said they would take the issue to China’s top court.
Qiaodan Sports, which operates about 6,000 shops selling shoes and sportswear in China, said in a post on its social media account that it had been using the Qiaodan name for 20 years, but would “respect the judgement.”