Michael Jordan has won a trademark battle against a China-based sportswear company whose name is the Chinese translation of his own surname.
Last week, the Shanghai Second Intermediate People’s Court ruled in favor of the NBA legend against Qiaodan Sports Co. over the use of Jordan’s name in Chinese. According to a judge, the apparel and footwear manufacturer had used the name for products and promotional material without permission and with the intent of misleading customers.
“This court believes that the right of name belongs to the right of personality,” read the ruling, which was signed by Presiding Judge Jiang Xiaoyan, Trial Judge Ji Lei and People’s Assessor Wang Chengqi. “To sum up, Qiaodan Sports Co. has infringed on the plaintiff’s name rights and should stop the infringement, apologize and eliminate the impact.”
As part of the ruling, Qiaodan must issue a public apology in print and online to clarify that it has no ties to Jordan, as well as immediately stop using Qiaodan in its corporate name and trademarks. However, the country has a five-year statute of limitations in which registered trademarks may be disputed, meaning that Qiaodan’s Jordan-related trademarks that are more than five years old are unable to be revoked.
What’s more, Qiaodan has been instructed to pay “emotional damages” of RMB 300,000 (or roughly $46,400 at current exchange) and RMB 50,000 (or $7,700) for incurred legal expenses to Jordan.
“Since the plaintiff clearly stated in this case that it does not claim economic losses, the court only made judgments on the plaintiff’s claim for mental damage relief and reasonable expenditures in the litigation,” the judges added.
According to the filing, the legal battle surrounding trademark issues between Jordan and Qiaodan date back to 2012. In a previous verdict in April, China’s Supreme People’s Court ruled in favor of Jordan by overturning two lower court decisions and acknowledging that Qiaodan had used Jordan’s name without authorization. However, it did not rule that Qiaodan’s logo — featuring the silhouette of a basketball player jumping with a ball in hand — violated the “Jumpman” logo, which is the silhouette of Jordan and is owned by Nike to promote the Air Jordan brand.