Chinese firms land roles on basketball star’s IP dispute

Retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan has instructed Chinese law firms Fangda and Jun He to advise on and act in a lawsuit in China against Qiaodan Sports Company for the unauthorised use of his name.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan

Jordan has filed a law suit in a Chinese court against the Fujian-based sportswear and footwear manufacturer, alleging that the company deliberately and aggressively used Michael Jordan’s name without his permission and misled Chinese consumers.

The Chinese company has registered and uses the name ’Qiaodan’, which is the moniker Michael Jordan has been known by in China since he gained widespread popularity in the mid-1980s.

In a statement, Jordan noted: “During my basketball career and now as a businessman, I’ve worked hard to establish my identity and brand, and I take tremendous pride in the shoes and apparel that feature my name and logo.

“It’s 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’m taking this action to preserve ownership of my name and my brand.”

He also stated that the complaint is not about money, but about principle and protecting his name. He intends to invest any monetary awards he might receive from the law suit in growing the sport of basketball in China.

Fangda’s Beijing IP and litigation partner Gordon Gao and Jun He’s Beijing foreign IP counsel Paul Schmidt are leading the Chinese legal advisory team representing Jordan in this case.

Both Gao and Schmidt used to work for international firms in China and have extensive trial experience in both the US and China. Gao joined Fangda in 2007 from Paul Hastings, where he served as head of the China IP practice group. Schmidt was a senior lawyer in Baker & McKenzie’s China trademark group before joining Jun He in 2010.

“We have sufficient ground to serve the claim, and we’re very confident about the outcome of the case,” said Gao.

The Chinese court is in the process of deciding whether to accept and hear the case.

Qiaodan Sports has not issued any public announcement responding to the lawsuit, although it is understood that the company has yet to receive formal legal notice of the suit.