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Michael Jordan Fights for His Name in China’s Highest Court

A man walks past a Qiaodan sports store in downtown Shanghai in 2012. Michael Jordan sued Qiaodan, accusing the company of using his name without permission. (REUTERS/Aly Song)
Michael Jordan Fights for His Name in China’s Highest Court
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Basketball star Michael Jordan’s lawyers said last Friday they will take a case to China's supreme court. The case deals with a Chinese sports company using trademarks relating to Mr. Jordan. There are several other cases in Chinese courts that say Chinese companies are using brand names without the permission of their owners.

The former Chicago Bulls star first sued Qiaodan Sports in 2012. He said the sports clothing company had used his Chinese name and famous jersey number "23" to build its business. The company in southern Fujian province did not have his permission to use the name or number.

Earlier this year, a court decided that Qiaodan could legally use the name. The Beijing Municipal High People's Court recently agreed with the decision.

“In light of the trademark dispute ruling,” the lawyers said in a statement, “We intend to appeal to the Supreme People's Court for retrial." The legal team added that they also are involved in a separate case with Qiaodan Sports over the rights to name some products.

The name “Qiaodan" is the way Chinese write Michael Jordan’s surname, or family name. Basketball is a popular sport in China where many admire Mr. Jordan. Another basketball superstar is Chinese-born former Houston Rockets player Yao Ming.

Ren Juan is a member of Qiaodan Sports' legal department. She was asked about the latest court decision. She answered saying: "Qiaodan Sports will respect the judgment of the court."

In 2013, Qiaodan Sports sued Michael Jordan for harming people’s opinions of the company. Qiaodan asked for $8 million in damages to its reputation.

Mr. Jordan's case is one of several that involve foreign companies and trademark rights in China.

Apple paid $60 million in 2012 to a Chinese company that owned the iPad trademark. Official Chinese media reported last month that a company with ties to U.S. shoemaker New Balance had lost a trademark case against a Chinese company.

Forbes Magazine says Mr. Jordan’s wealth is valued at $1 billion. He is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team. He also has a contract with Nike, which makes Air Jordan shoes.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Jill Robbins adapted it for VOA Learning English from a Reuters news report. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

trademark - n. something (such as a word) that identifies a company's product and cannot be used by another company without permission

suev. to use a legal process by which you try to get a court of law to force a person, company, or organization that has treated you unfairly or hurt you in some way to give you something or to do something

reputationn. the way in which people think of someone or something

Now it’s your turn. What do you think of companies that copy famous brand names? Would you buy goods from these companies? Write to us in the comments section.