Jordan ruling puts sportswear company through hoops in court

Updated 2017-02-14 10:29:34 China Daily

On Dec 8, the Supreme People's Court, China's top legal chamber, reached a verdict in a retrial of a long case regarding three trademarks that used the name of Michael Jordan, the retired basketball player.

The court ruled in favor of Jordan and forbade Qiaodan (pronounced "Cheeow-dahn") Sports, a Chinese sportswear company, from using the characters for "Jordan" in three trademarks it has registered.

The decision was made on the grounds that Qiaodan Sports had infringed Jordan's right to use his name, which is a not only a legal right, but had been established before the three trademarks were registered.

The court said Jordan had a high degree of popularity in China before the registration and his fame reaches far beyond the basketball court.

"He is a public figure who enjoys a high degree of popularity," according to the ruling.

The judges said the evidence showed that Jordan is referred to as "Qiaodan" in China and the name is known and used by members of the public. Therefore, he enjoys the right to use the name "Qiaodan".

Using "Qiaodan" on the company's products would mislead consumers into believing that the products are presented by Michael Jordan or could likely cause people to think that the sports star had given Qiaodan Sports the right to use his name, the court said.

Jordan began his action in 2012. His legal team argued that the company's trademarks had infringed on his legal right to use his name, and asked the court to invalidate more than 60 trademarks used by Qiaodan Sports.

The company argued that "Jordan" is a common name, and it didn't associate the name with Michael Jordan.

Two previous rulings against Jordan issued by courts in Beijing in 2014 and 2015 were overturned.

The top court ordered the trademark review and adjudication board at the State Administration for Industry and Commerce to issue a new ruling about the use of the Chinese characters in three of Qiaodan Sports' trademarks.

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