China's top court rules in Michael Jordan's favor in trademark case

Thu Dec 8, 2016 1:15am EST
 
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By Adam Jourdan

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's highest court has ruled in favor of former basketball star Michael Jordan in a long-running trademark case relating to a local sportswear firm using the Chinese version of his name, overturning earlier rulings against the athlete.

The ruling is a rare bit of good news for a foreign brand in China, where companies, including iPhone maker Apple Inc and shoe brand New Balance, have often come out on the losing side in trademark disputes.

The former Chicago Bulls player sued Qiaodan Sports in 2012, saying the company located in southern Fujian province had built its business around his Chinese name and famous jersey number "23" without his permission.

In 2015 a court ruled in favor of Qiaodan Sports over the trademark dispute, a ruling which was then upheld by the Beijing Municipal High People's Court. After that ruling Jordan's legal team said they would take the case to China's top court.

The Chinese characters for Jordan's name read as "Qiaodan" in basketball-mad China, which also has a homegrown superstar in former Houston Rockets player Yao Ming.

On Thursday, China's Supreme People's Court overturned earlier rulings in favor of Qiaodan Sports using the characters for Jordan's Chinese name, although it upheld a ruling allowing the firm to use the Romanized version "Qiaodan".

It added the Chinese firm's actions had displayed "malicious intent" by registering trademarks for Jordan's Chinese name.

"I am happy that the Supreme People's Court has recognized the right to protect my name through its ruling in the trademark cases," Jordan said in a statement sent to Reuters.   Continued...

 
NBA basketball great Michael Jordan pauses during a ceremony where he was inducted into the North Carolina Sport Hall of Fame, during halftime of the NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats, in Charlotte, North Carolina December 14, 2010.     REUTERS/Chris Keane