Basketball legend Michael Jordan has scored a crucial victory in a Chinese court, ending a six-year fight against a famous mainland copycat.
Beijing Intellectual Property Court dismissed the appeal from the Qiaodan sportswear company and ruled that its trademark is deceptive and damaging to the trademark rights of Michael Jordan.
The dismissal upheld a ruling from the Supreme People’s Court that ruled in favour of the former Chicago Bulls superstar regaining the rights to Qiaodan, the Chinese version of his surname, in December 2016.
The Fujian-based retailer is a well-known brand which has never secured licensing rights to Michael Jordan’s name.
In its appeal, Qiaodan argued that Jordan had won only three out of 78 cases against the company over the years.
Michael Jordan’s case is only one example of a major foreign brand having its identity hi-jacked by local firms who are quick to register international brands. American giants Apple and Nike have also endured long struggles to regain their brand rights in China.
Last year, the Beijing IP Court published 18 classic cases on trademarks filed in bad faith, most notably a case of luxury jeweler Tiffanytaken out against its local copycat Diffany.
Many global brands have suffered considerable costs while fighting for brand rights in China. Apple even paid US$60 million to a Chinese firm that had registered the iPad name, simply to secure the rights to use its own flagship product name in China.
In the case of Michael Jordan, Beijing IP court ruled that Jordan is a relatively famous brand and that the public knows Jordan means Michael Jordan.
The Jordan brand does not restrict itself to basketball-related markets, as Michael Jordan is also a spokesman for other popular commercial products.
The court ruled that Qiaodan’s use of its controversial trademark leads to public confusion that has hurt Michael Jordan’s trademarks.
This judgement reversed a 2012 decision in which a Beijing court ruled in favour of Qiaodan, stating that Jordan was a common family name not necessarily related to Michael Jordan.
Jordan is the all-time highest paid athlete, with earnings of US$1.65 billion since 1984, according to Forbes.