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This Jordan Is Not That Jordan

By Zhu Chong (朱冲)
Lifestyle, page 55
Issue No. 547, Dec 5, 2011
Translated Song Chunling
Original Article:

When it launches its IPO on one of China's domestic bourses, Qiaodan (乔丹) will become the first listed sports company in China, the company also just happens to share its name with the Chinese moniker for the American basketball superstar Michael Jordan (乔丹), but has nothing else to do with him.

The company was founded in 1984 as Chendaixibian Commodity Factory Two of Jinjiang County, Fujian Province (福建省晋江县陈埭溪边日用品二厂) and renamed itself as Fujian Qiaodan (福建乔丹) in 2000. In 2009, Qiaodan Sports (乔丹体育) was adopted as the new name.

Apart from having the same Chinese name as Michael Jordan, Qiaodan Sports also just happens to share a logo that bears a striking resemblance to Nike's "Air Jordan" range (see image). The primary business of Qiaodan is also making sports shoes and clothing.

However according to the statement by Qiaodan Sports, "Jordan" is just a common foreign surname and it doesn't specifically refer to one individual person.

In its prospectus, a notice is also provided, saying that Qiaodan Sports currently doesn't have business cooperation with Michael Jordan and have never used his pictures for commercial promotion. There hasn't been any conflicts or potential conflicts with Michael Jordan over their registered trade mark since the company was founded in 2000. Consumers can also tell Qiaodan products from "Air Jordans."

It's true that Jordan is a common name, but curiously Qiaodan Sports also registered the names of Jordan's two sons as trademarks. The application of Michael Jordan for the trademark 迈克尔•乔丹 (Maikeer Qioadan - Michael Jordan) was rejected as Qiaodan Sports had already registered it.

In terms of trademark registrations, China follows the principle of first come, first served. Many of the Chinese names of celebrities have thus all been registered in advance. Apart from Qiaodan (乔丹), there are also Kebi (科比 Chinese translation of Kobe [Bryant]) and Aifusen (艾弗森 Chinese translation of Allen Iverson).

The name of Chinese basketball player Yao Ming was also originally registered in different areas as well, with a brand of Yao Ming tampons being sold for a while, but it seems that the home-grown giant was "protected" and was able to get control of his name back - he's just used it on a red wine bottle.

However, despite the similarity, this Qiaodan can't compete with that Jordan either. While that Nike "Air Jordan" is aiming at the high-end market, this Qiaodan is selling to less-affluent customers in third-tier cities and villages throughout China.

Although China has recently promised to the world to strengthen intellectual property protection, this Qiaodan has still been recognized as a "Famous Trademark of China" (中国驰名商标), a "China Famous Brand Product" (中国名牌产品) and a "National Inspection-free Product" (国家免检产品) - the company will soon also be listed on the domestic stock market.



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