After years of lawsuits against a Chinese imitator appropriating his name and brand, Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls player widely hailed as one of the best basketball players of all time, lost a trademark suit to Qiaodan Sports in China's highest court on Thursday after numerous appeals. Jordan first sued the company, which is based in the southeastern Fujian province, in 2012 for using his Chinese name, his number as a player, 23, and a silhouette logo similar to the "Jumpman" used by Nike to deceive Chinese consumers into purchasing sportswear that appeared to be endorsed by the basketball player.
— Charlie Shifflett (@wcshifflett) April 30, 2013
China's Supreme Court in Beijing dismissed the trademark suit against Qiaodan under the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the sportswear company's trademarks referred to the six-time NBA champion. Qiaodan (乔丹), pronounced "chee-ow dahn" is the transliteration of "Jordan" in Mandarin that has been used to reference the basketball player since he began playing in the NBA in the 1980's, according to Jordan's legal team in an online statement.
— chuck hayes (@c_hayes44) July 31, 2014
After two court decisions ruled in favor of Qiaodan, Jordan appealed to the Beijing court, which reaffirmed the original decision in the verdict published in Chinese media and translated by Quartz. It read: “'Qiaodan'” is not the only name that corresponds to 'Jordan,' and 'Jordan' is only an ordinary surname of American people, not a full name. So the current evidence is not enough to prove that 'Qiaodan' determinedly points to Michael Jordan. The image of the disputed trademark is a human body in a shadowy design, which does not clearly reflect the major appearances of the figure. It is hard for the relevant public to recognize the image as Michael Jordan."
While Jordan lost his suit asking Qiaodan Sports to deregister multiple trademarks, his legal team prevented the company from an IPO in 2013, and the publicity from the case made Qiaodan known as a knockoff, according to Quartz.
China has been frequently criticized for its lenient enforcement of international intellectual property laws, while is recognized to protect domestic counterfeiters. The nation has remained on the U.S. Priority Watch List of trading partners that fail to protect intellectual property rights "despite certain improvements," reported Agence-France-Presse.