February 23, 2021
As reported by Variety, Michael Jordan has been awarded emotional damages in the latest of a series of trademark disputes with a Chinese sportswear company, Qiodan Sports Company.
Over the past twenty years, the sportswear company — whose name translates to “Jordan” — has registered approximately 200 trademarks related to the legendary basketball player. Among these trademarks is Qiodan’s logo, which features the silhouette of a basketball player closely resembling Jordan in the iconic Jumpman logo owned by Nike. In addition, the sportswear company previously trademarked the jersey number Jordan used throughout most of his career, 23.
In a recent decision, a Shanghai court found that Qiodan had made “a very obvious attempt to mislead” the public about its association with the basketball icon by using Jordan’s name in its trademarks without the NBA icon’s authorization. The court rejected the sportswear company’s argument that Jordan is a common surname that was not used in reference to the famed basketballer.
The court ordered Qiodan to issue a public declaration stating that it has no affiliation with Jordan himself and to take reasonable measures to clarify that its existing trademarks have no actual connection with the legendary athlete. In addition, the court ordered Qiodan to publicly apologize to Jordan for misappropriating his name and to pay the relatively modest sums of $46,000 for “emotional damages” and $7,600 for legal costs.
While the company can no longer use the Chinese characters in its corporate name (乔丹), it can still use the phonetic English spelling of the Chinese translation (Qiaodan).
Authors: Meghan King and Rachel Oster