Chinese corporate chutzpah: Michael Jordan’s copycat company countersues

The Chinese sportswear company Qiaodan (the Chinese word for Jordan), which Michael Jordan sued for copyright infringement in February 2012, is countersuing, claiming that Jordan’s "lawsuit misled customers and the public." The Financial Times reports that Qiaodan (whose logo looks like a version of the Air Jordan logo, but with the player pivoting instead of ...

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611091_139650621_12.jpg

The Chinese sportswear company Qiaodan (the Chinese word for Jordan), which Michael Jordan sued for copyright infringement in February 2012, is countersuing, claiming that Jordan's "lawsuit misled customers and the public." The Financial Times reports that Qiaodan (whose logo looks like a version of the Air Jordan logo, but with the player pivoting instead of jumping) is seeking $8 million in damages, and that no decision has yet been reached on Jordan's lawsuit against Qiaodan. 

As the Wall Street Journal reports, "Naming rights and trademarks have been thorny issues for companies selling goods in China. Last year, Apple Inc. paid $60 million for rights to the iPad name in China after a series of lawsuits and countersuits with a Chinese company that registered the trademark before Apple."  

Qiaodan is a major chain with more than 6,000 outlets throughout China, and the case is being considered in Fujian province where the company's based, which should help its prospects. On the other hand, this is a pretty blatant example of copyright infringement. Qiaodan claims it was simply using a translation "of what it considers a common foreign family name." But while Michael Jordan remains very well known in China, the company's excuse is roughly equivalent to an American company creating a line of martial arts products called Bruce Lee -- and then claiming that it is just a common name for Asians. 

The Chinese sportswear company Qiaodan (the Chinese word for Jordan), which Michael Jordan sued for copyright infringement in February 2012, is countersuing, claiming that Jordan’s "lawsuit misled customers and the public." The Financial Times reports that Qiaodan (whose logo looks like a version of the Air Jordan logo, but with the player pivoting instead of jumping) is seeking $8 million in damages, and that no decision has yet been reached on Jordan’s lawsuit against Qiaodan. 

As the Wall Street Journal reports, "Naming rights and trademarks have been thorny issues for companies selling goods in China. Last year, Apple Inc. paid $60 million for rights to the iPad name in China after a series of lawsuits and countersuits with a Chinese company that registered the trademark before Apple."  

Qiaodan is a major chain with more than 6,000 outlets throughout China, and the case is being considered in Fujian province where the company’s based, which should help its prospects. On the other hand, this is a pretty blatant example of copyright infringement. Qiaodan claims it was simply using a translation "of what it considers a common foreign family name." But while Michael Jordan remains very well known in China, the company’s excuse is roughly equivalent to an American company creating a line of martial arts products called Bruce Lee — and then claiming that it is just a common name for Asians. 

Isaac Stone Fish is a journalist and senior fellow at the Asia Society’s Center on U.S-China Relations. He was formerly the Asia editor at Foreign Policy Magazine. Twitter: @isaacstonefish
Tag: Jordan

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