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Michael Jordan takes trademark case to China's supreme court

Basketball player Michael Jordan will take a trademark dispute over the Chinese version of his name to China's highest court, Reuters said07 Sep 2015

Jordan is known in China by a Chinese transliteration of his name: 乔丹 or Qiaodan. While Jordan registered his English name in the country, he did not register Qiaodan, said Paul Haswell, a lawyer with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.

A Chinese company called Qiaodan Sports registered the name, plus the number 23 which was Jordan's player number when he played for the Chicago Bulls, and has been selling Qiaodan sportswear.

"The average consumer assumes that is Michael Jordan's own sportswear brand. Many of the shoes look like Nike Air Jordans, down to the logo," Haswell said.

To date, Jordan's attempts to sue to get the name back have come to nothing, he said.

Earlier this year, a court ruled in favour of Qiaodan over the trademark dispute, and this ruling was recently upheld by the Beijing Municipal High People's Court, legal representatives for Jordan told Reuters.

Jordan's lawyers told Reuters that "in light of the trademark dispute ruling, we intend to appeal to the Supreme People's Court for retrial". A separate case with Qiaodan Sports over naming rights is still on-going, they said.

In a similar case, Bloomberg reported that this week a firm in Shenzhen has been calling itself Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Company.

The company uses the same Chinese characters as the US Goldman Sachs bank, and its English font is similar to the bank’s, Bloomberg said.

Goldman Sachs told Bloomberg that there are no ties between the companies and that it is looking into the matter.

Any challenge over the use of the Goldman Sachs name is unlikely to be successful, as in the Jordan case, Haswell said.