NBA great Michael Jordan has claimed a legal victory in China.
The high court ruled that a Chinese sportswear company can’t sell merchandise using his name in Chinese characters, the Wall Street Journal reports.
China’s Supreme People’s Court overturned two previous rulings by Beijing courts against Jordan, saying Fujian-based Qiaodan Sports Co. can’t use his Chinese name as a trademark.
The court said Jordan’s name has longstanding recognition in China, and the Chinese sports company’s trademark registration came with an “obvious subjective malice”.
The ruling did not include any financial damages to Jordan.
“Nothing is more important than protecting your own name, and today’s decision shows the importance of that principle,” Jordan said in a statement.
The former Chicago Bulls star, who holds six NBA championship rings, filed suit against Qiaodan in 2012.
However, the high court said the company can still use the pinyin-system Romanized spelling of Jordan’s last name in Chinese — Qiaodan, according to the WSJ .
Qiaodan said on its verified social media account it will abide by the high court’s ruling.
The Chinese company first registered for the right to use the moniker in 1997, when it applied to use the name with a logo of a baseball player at bat.
Jordan does not hold a registered trademark for his Chinese name in China.
“The ruling sent a powerful signal to copycats in China,” said Xiang Wang, a Beijing-based intellectual-property lawyer at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, who has no connection to the case.
It is not uncommon for people to squat on overseas brands’ trademarks or patents in China on the expectation the companies will settle rather than get tangled in the lengthy litigation.
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