Over the years, Hall of Famer Michael Jordan has become one of the most successful sports athletes on and off the court. Well into retirement, Jordan has continued to blaze a path as he has experienced tremendous financial success in his many business ventures. It has made him the gold standard that many other professional athletes past and present have eyed, hoping to capture that type of prosperity well after their playing days. It has also seen Jordan have to deal with many different legal matters involving his namesake and brand. He recently settled a lengthy case that went through the court system and finally ruled in his favor ending after eight years.
Michael Jordan sues Chinese sportswear company
Back in 2012, Nike, with the help of Jordan, filed lawsuits with the hopes of proving that the Chinese company, Qiaodan Sports, had used “his” name illegally.
The word “Qiaodan” in English is translated to “Jordan,” which the company has used it in various commercial applications. The company had first established itself in 1997 with the original intent of selling sportswear to Chinese consumers. Their logo at first was of a baseball player batting with white hands.
There had been no indication then that it was about the Hall of Famer. However, things changed in the years to come as the company filed for trademark applications in China that included an animated basketball player silhouette logo that looked like Jordan’s iconic Jumpman logo along with wearing No. 23. That also included Chinese characters that sounded eerily similar to “Jeffrey Jordan” and “Marcus Jordan,” which are the names of the Bulls’ great’s sons. In total, the company had filed for nearly 200 trademarks that some similarity to him.
The company benefited from the “first-to-file” basis that China had to continue to move forward. Meanwhile, they had some significant growth over the years to push to around 6,000 locations.
At the same time, it saw Nike continue to expand its brand in China that led to them obtaining Chines trademark rights for the name “Michael Jordan” and the Jumpman logo. Things hit a rut after Nike saw their filed trademark for “Jordan” denied due to Qiaodan Sports already holding that for years without any objection from Nike or Jordan brand. All of that set the stage for a lawsuit from the company.
Michael Jordan, Nike “win” eight-year lawsuit
In 2012, Nike behind Jordan decided to file a lawsuit in hopes of proving that Qiaodan Sports’ trademarked were not valid.
They were also hoping to show that the company had tried to replicate his image while selling products through the name “Qiaodan” on their product and various other commercial applications. That all made for a length lawsuit that took years to get through the entire matter that had more than 80 suits and counter-lawsuits along the way.
Although there were several setbacks along the way for Jordan and Nike, the Supreme People’s Court, which is the highest court in China, ruled that the intellectual property rights were promoted to Hall of Famer and Nike. It’s not a total complete win as Qiaodan Sports can still use their similar basketball player logo.
At the same time, it’s like not the last time that these two sides will square off in court.
Michael Jordan protecting his brand
Ultimately, the win, in this case, isn’t about the money but more so about protecting his brand and namesake as a public figure.
It isn’t the first time that Jordan has had to go through these legal means to protect it, and it likely won’t be the last. That happened several years ago as he won an $8.9 million lawsuit in a six-year case back in 2015 against a grocery company using his name and brand in an ad without his permission.
Jordan’s popularity has continuously put him in this scenario on several occasions over the years. Still, him taking a strong approach through the legal system may one day put an end to it all.