By Paul Chung
After spending nearly two decades on the basketball court, the legendary Michael Jordan is now gradually learning the rules of defence and offence in the Chinese legal system.
This week, Qiaodan Sportswear filed a countersuit against Michael Jordan (also known as ‘Qiaodan’ in China) for tarnishing the company’s reputation among Chinese consumers. The lawsuit, filed in the Quanzhou Court of Fujian Province, seeks over $8 million compensation for damages.
Last February, Qiaodan (the basketball player) sued Qiaodan (the sportswear company) for illegally using his name to make a profit. The lawsuit is currently underway in a Shanghai court.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Jordan doesn’t hold a registered trademark for his Chinese name in China, but legal experts said that might not matter.
Chinese law generally protects parties who hold registrations and who file early for them. But a provision says businesses can’t freely use the names of famous people, even if the people don’t have registered trademarks.
Qiaodan Sports said last year it has the exclusive right to the Qiaodan trademark and is operating “in accordance with Chinese laws.” The company first registered for the rights to use the moniker in 1997, when it applied to use the name with the logo of a baseball player at bat, according to the trademark office of China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce.
Meanwhile, Qiaodan Sportswear is forgoing its much-anticipated IPO procedure ahead of the legal dispute. The company, which operates over 6,000 outlets, was planning a major expansion across China.