Michael Jordan is the retired NBA superstar and is also well
known in China. Qiaodan Sports Co. is a sportswear company in
Jinjiang, Fujian province of China. Qiaodan Sports registered
trademarks for "Qiaodan"- a Chinese transliteration of
"Jordan", "Qiaodan" in Chinese Pinyin and their
various combinations with a figure in a shadowy design showing
only a silhouette.
Qiaodan Sports started to use the Chinese
transliteration "Qiaodan" as
its trade name since 2000. Qiaodan Sports
took "Qiaodan" (in Chinese) and the figure in a
shadowy design showing only a silhouette as the
main registered trademark and registered various defensive trademarks during the years.
In 2012, claiming that the registered trademarks by Qiaodan
Sports had, among others, infringed his name right, Michael Jordan
filed requests with the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board
(TRAB) of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce for
revoking the related trademarks registered by Qiaodan Sports. The
TRAB found that as that Jordan is a common family name in
Anglo-American world, it is difficult to identify the corresponding
relationship between the family name Jordan and Michael Jordan as a
matter of course, and thereby rejected Michael Jordan's
requests. Michael Jordan appealed.
Both the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court and the
Beijing High People's Court upheld the TRAB's decisions.
Michael Jordan requested retrial of 68 cases with the Supreme
People's Court. In December 2015, the Supreme People's
Court issued certiorari to 10 cases by finding that Beijing High
People's Court missed one of appeal causes asserting that the
registered trademarks violate Michael's name rights and
don't comply with Article 31 of the Chinese Trademark Law
In the morning of April 26th, 2016, the Supreme People's
Court of the P.R.C. heard the cases jointly.
The point in dispute during the oral hearing of the retrial is
whether the registration of the trademarks violate Michael
Jordan's name rights. The attorneys of Michael Jordan asserted
that, the Chinese transliteration "Qiaodan" of Jordan and
the corresponding Pinyin are identifiers of Michael Jordan, as
Jordan enjoys extremely high reputation in China, marketing of
commodities under the trademarks for "Qiaodan" will
absolutely be regarded as authorized by Michael Jordan himself, and
thus infringes the relevant rights and interests of Michael Jordan.
The TRAB argued that Michael Jordan shall be barred from enforcing
his rights due to laches upon requesting revocation after 12 years
of registration of the trademarks in dispute and the asserted high
reputation of "Qiaodan" is created by Qiaodan Sports
rather than by Michael Jordan.
The panel didn't announce their decisions after the oral
hearing but suggested that, in light of the limited trial time,
each side may submit written opinions within seven working days of
the oral hearing. It is expected that decisions will be made by the
Supreme Court very soon.
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