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China Law Insight

Intellectual Property

Michael Jordan vs. Qiaodan Sportswear Co., Ltd Lawsuit Accepted

Posted in Intellectual Property

By King & Wood Mallesons’ Trademark Group

According to the statement dated as of March 1, 2012 issued by a representative for Michael Jordan, the suit filed by former NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan against a Chinese sportswear and shoe manufacturer Qiaodan Sportswear Co., Ltd., whose trade name and trademark 乔丹 is equivalent to the commonly used Chinese translation for Jordan, has been accepted by court in China. The specific claims of the suit remain a myth presently.

Subsequent to the above statement, Michael Jordan also released another statement:

"I am very happy that the Chinese courts have accepted my case to protect the use of my name and the interests of Chinese consumers. Qiaodan Sports has built a business off my Chinese name, the number 23, and even attempted to use the names of my children, without authorization. I think Chinese consumers deserve to be protected from being misled, and they should know exactly what they are buying. I am taking this action to preserve the ownership of my name and my brand. No one should lose control of their own name, and the acceptance of my case shows that China recognizes that this is true for everyone. After all, what’s more personal than your name?"

Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships during the 1990s, has been known in China by the name "乔丹(Qiaodan)" – the Chinese translation of Jordan – since he was first seen on Chinese television program playing for the U.S. Basketball Team in the 1984 Olympics.

The Chinese company, Qiaodan Sportswear Co. Ltd, was registered in 2000 and has used the name and trademark "乔丹 (Qiaodan)" since its establishment. It owns many trademark registrations for "乔丹", "QIAODAN", "XIAOQIAODAN 小乔丹" (means little Jordan) , " " and "" on goods of  "clothing; sports shoes", etc. in Class 25.

It is publicly reported that the IPO application filed by Qiaodan Sportswear has been approved by China Securities Regulatory Commission. If Qiaodan Sportswear loses the suit, not only will it suffer huge amount of compensation, but it will be forced to stop using the mark "乔丹". In addition, the result may affect its IPO.

In the meantime, NIKE, who used to cooperate with Michael Jordan as early as in the 1980s, expressed its support to Jordan’s lawsuit. As a matter of fact, NIKE filed several trademark oppositions against Qiaodan Sportswear’s trademarks applications for "", which shares certain similarities to NIKE’s device mark in use " ". However, all the aforesaid oppositions were not supported by the China Trademark Office. (Contributed by: Cai Ye)

For more information about the above issue, please refer to:

http://www.therealjordan.com/zh/default.aspx
http://kuaixun.stcn.com/content/2012-03/02/content_4919796.htm
http://overseas.stcn.com/content/2012-03/05/content_4930140.htm