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This Jordan Sues that Jordan

By Darwin Wally T. Wee a  freelance journalist on exchange with the Economic Observer.

American basketball legend Michael Jordan cried foul after learning that a Chinese sportswear company is allegedly using his name for profits without the latter’s consent.

On Wednesday, Jordan issued a statement through his website that he is formally filing a lawsuit against Qiaodan Sports Company Limited, a company located in the southern Fujian province.

Jordan said he is throwing the ball to the Chinese court to determine the case, in which he has accused the Chinese company of misleading consumers by illegally putting his name and also trying to use the names of his two sons on their products.

“It is deeply disappointing to see a company build a business off my Chinese name without my permission, use the number 23 and even attempt to use the names of my children. I am taking this action to preserve ownership of my name and my brand,” he said.

“We live in a competitive marketplace, and Chinese consumers, like anyone else, have a huge amount of choice when it comes to buying clothing, shoes and other merchandise. Chinese fans have always been very supportive of me, and that’s something I deeply appreciate. I think they deserve to know what they are buying,” he added.

Jordan denied that he is after the money but rather the integrity of his name.

“This complaint is not about money. It’s about principle and protecting my name. Any monetary awards I might receive will be invested in growing the sport of basketball in China.”

The EO published a story highlighting the similarities of the company’s name to that of the former NBA superstar back in December 2011.

The report noted that Qiaodan, which is the first sportswear company to have been given permission to list on the domestic stock market, claimed that the company does not have any connection to the American basketball legend, saying that the name “Jordan” is a common foreign surname and it doesn't specifically refer to one individual person.

It said the company has changed its name at least twice before it settled for the name Qiaodan Sports (乔丹体育) in 2009.

Aside from the name, the company’s logo also bore a same resemblance to the Nike’s Air Jordan – a silhouette of a basketball player holding a ball.

Copying the names of famous sports players and other celebrities for product branding purposes in China is not uncommon. Even its former Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming has suffered the same fate after a local company used its name for a tampon brand. To avoid future problems, some celebrities have registered their names in advance in China.  

Following the announcement of the lawsuit, Chinese microbloggers gave mixed reactions to the issue, some support Jordan while others were lukewarm to the former NBA star’s action.

“The behavior of Qiaodan Sports Co., is just imitation. Someday Adidas may sue Adivon (also a sportswear company based in Quanzhou city, southeast of China) for imitating its trademark and misleading the public.  I think Qiaodan and Jordan are different anyway. Plus China will protect its own company, so Michael Jordan can hardly win,” said a microblogger who goes by the name OwNLY_ONE.

“I always thought that the Chinese Qiaodan company had been authorized by Michael Jordan, and is part of Nike's "Air Jordan" range. This is so surprising. The company should be ashamed of itself,” Tom-Chi, another microblogger wrote.

Others did not see any problem with the name of the company but took exception to the products it sells.

“According to the registration procedure, there seems no violation. But the logo, the name of the products and its range of business are very misleading. It obviously is taking advantage of the huge influence of Jordan. Shame on the company,” a microblogger name Jiasitesousou said.

Links and Sources
China Buzz: This Jordan isn\'t That Jordan


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