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Michael Jordan wins rare trademark dispute in China after top court orders sportswear company to cease using his name

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan has won a major long running trademark dispute after China’s supreme court ruled that a sportswear company must stop using his Chinese name.

The People's Supreme Court ordered the sports company, which traded under a name identical to Jordan’s Chinese name- Qiaodan, to stop using the characters.

Qiaodan Sports had the name trademarked more than a decade ago, however Jordan’s lawyers argued that the Chinese company had used the name to build its business without his approval.

The basketball legend launched legal action against Chinese company Qiaodan Sports in 2012, arguing that its trademarks had damaged his legal rights to use his name with his own Jordan brand and asked the court to invalidate more than 60 trademarks used by the company.

One of Qiaodan Sports sneakers which is strikingly similar the Jordan line of footwear.

"Chinese consumers deserve to know that Qiaodan Sports and its products have no connection to me,” said Jordan. "Nothing is more important than protecting your own name, and today's decision shows the importance of that principle."

The judgement said that the Chinese firm had shown "malicious intent" by registering trademarks for Jordan's Chinese name, however the ruling allows it to continue using the Romanized version.

In 2015 a court ruled in favour of Qiaodan Sports arguing that the brand’s name was the translation of a common family name in China and did not necessarily refer to the star, despite its logo featuring a basketball player.

In response representatives of the former Chicago Bulls great vowed to take the issue to China’s top court.

The victory will be seen as hugely significant going forward given that so many individuals and businesses have failed to protect their copyright in China.

Apple lost a case against a company selling handbags and other leather goods which used the brand ‘IPHONE’.

Similarly, New Balance lost its battle against a Chinese businessman who claimed the US sportswear company had infringed his rights to the Chinese name that he had registered in 2008.

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