In perhaps his greatest victory since Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan has won back his own name in China… at least partially.
Earlier today, China’s top court ruled that Jordan owns the rights to his own Chinese last name. This is the latest development in a long-running dispute between the basketball legend and a Fujian-based sporting goods retailer that Jordan claims is trying to use his iconic name, image and jersey number to sell their shoes and jerseys.
Jordan first sued Qiaodan Sports Co. back in 2012, claiming that the Chinese manufacturer was attempting to use his own trademark for their benefit. Qiaodan (乔丹) is the well-known transliteration of Jordan’s surname in Chinese. Meanwhile, the company’s products also incorporate the number 23 and a silhouette of a basketball player which bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconic “Jumpman” logo used by Nike in its Air Jordan line.
Last year, a lower court in Beijing dismissed the case, ruling that “Jordan” is a common surname used by Americans and that the logo was in the shape of a person with no facial features, making it “difficult” for consumers to identify.
Never one to give up, Jordan then brought the case to China’s biggest legal arena — the Supreme People’s Court. Once again, Jordan showed why he is the GOAT, emerging victorious at the highest level of competition…
…at least somewhat. While the court ruled that the Chinese firm must give up its registration of the Chinese name 乔丹, it will still be allowed to use the pinyin version Qiaodan.
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