INTA Bulletin

September 1, 2015 Vol. 70 No. 15 Back to Bulletin Main Page

CHINA: Court Rules Mark Incorporating Michael Jordan’s Chinese Name Valid

Following our report in May (Vol.70, No. 9) regarding Michael Jordan’s unsuccessful invalidation action against registration of the mark 乔丹 (pronounced Qiaodan in Chinese Pinyin), a final decision has now been issued.

The Beijing Higher People’s Court rendered final judgments on 30 of the 78 乔丹 cases appealed to the Court by the former NBA MVP player Michael Jordan, who lost at trial in the first instance seeking to overturn the decisions rendered by the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) regarding registration of the mark 乔丹 by the Chinese company, Qiaodan Sporting Goods Co. Ltd. Michael Jordan argued that the mark was too similar to his Chinese name, 迈克尔∙乔丹 (pronounced Maiker Qiaodan). The Court dismissed the appeals of all of these cases and, as a result, these trademarks shall be lawfully registered and used by the Chinese company in connection with sporting garments and other goods and services in more than 10 classes.

The Court did not admit evidence of actual confusion by relative consumers due to use of the subject mark submitted by Michael Jordan. The evidence was not considered because it was deemed irrelevant to the issues at hand under the cited provisions of the Chinese Trademark Law (Articles 10-1-8, 31 and 41-1) prior to revision of 2014, which were whether registration of the subject mark would: (a) be detrimental to Michael Jordan’s prior rights; (b) go against socialist morals; (c) have unhealthy influences; or (d) was obtained by deceitful/improper means.

The Court held that 乔丹 by itself did not literally bear any meaning that was detrimental to socialist morals or that had other unhealthy influences. It also determined that registration of the mark would not damage the name of Michael Jordan or his Chinese name. No sufficient evidence was submitted to prove that registration of the subject mark was achieved by any deceitful or improper means. Thus, the Court did not support the claims by Michael Jordan.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2015 International Trademark Association