This Just In: Michael Jordan takes Qiaodan Trademark Dispute to Chinese Supreme Court

By Ritvik M. Kulkarni 

Famous basketball player and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has had it with Chinese Sportswear company Qiaodan Sports. In basketball-crazy China, Jordan is referred to and pronounced as Qiaodan.

In 2012, Jordan brought a suit against Qiaodan Sports for using his trademark and his famous “23” jersey number without his permission in the course of building Qiaodan’s business in China. He claimed that the Chinese company is making an unjust enrichment from exploiting his trademark for which he has earned a massive reputation (which by the way has an equally massive monetary value) all over the world; an especially in China. Furthermore, the Company has also been using his children’s names on its sports products with a view to garner more attention (and eventually more profit) form its consumers.

Qiaodan Sportswear Co. Ltd 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[1].

After the lower Court rejected Jordan’s trademark claims, he has announced his intention of approaching the Chinese Apex Court deal with his grievances. Jordan has claimed damages worth $8 million for this unfair and unlawful usage of his trademarks by Qiaodan.

Name Trademarks

According to universal standards, it is open for any person to obtain a trademark registration for the purpose of using the said mark on any goods and/services in a particular country. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), “you can register your name as a trademark provided the Trademark Office of your country or the country for which you are seeking protection considers it “distinctive”[2].”

In the present case, it is more than obvious that Michael Jordan’s name has not only become extremely well-known across his global fan-base (and non-fans as well) but has also assumed a distinctive status in the eyes of consumers; especially when it comes to all things related to basketball. This kind of reputation has entitled him to claim rights to his personality and all the ancillary aspects of his personality such as his family, his team (the Charlotte Hornets) and also his Jersey Number, “23”.

In my opinion, the basketball star is completely justified in a making infringement claims against Qiaodan and for claiming the huge amount of compensation that he has. Now it is only a matter of time before the Supreme People’s Court of China takes up this matter and settles the question once and for all. Let’s hope Jordan gets his share of justice!

What do you think?

[1] http://www.chinalawinsight.com/2012/05/articles/intellectual-property/michael-jordan-vs-qiaodan-sportswear-co-ltd-lawsuit-accepted/

[2] http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/faq/tm_faqs_q4.html

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