(Yicai Global) March 16 -- New developments have occurred in trademark disputes that have lasted years. On March 8, the intellectual property tribunal of Jinjiang People's Court heard a case in which Qiaodan Sports Co. is suing Nike Sports (China) Co. and Nike Commerce (China) Co. for infringing its trademark rights and unfair competition, the Beijing News reported today.
The defendant used the plaintiff's 'Qiaodan' (乔丹in Chinese script) logo, a registered trademark the plaintiff has an exclusive right to use and which is well-known and highly recognized in the market, without the plaintiff's permission in advertisements (paid search rankings) to market and sell its sports shoes, Qiaodan Sports claimed. The defendant's use of the trademark that is the same as the plaintiff's registered symbol on the same type of products without proper authorization infringes the latter's exclusive right to the mark and constitutes unfair competition, its complaint continues. It demands that the defendant cease the infringement, publicly apologize and pay CNY300,000 (USD47,500) to it to cover Qiaodan Sport's losses and reasonable expenses.
Qiaodan in both characters and the Romanized Pinyin script is Michael Jordan's name transliterated into Chinese.
Nike Sports and Nike Commerce denied using the Qiaodan basketball shoe logo or other relevant logos on their official websites, saying they only used them as back-office keywords, and argued their actions did not constitute trademark infringement or unfair competition. The court did not announce its decision at the hearing.
Nike has raised objections to the use of Qiaodan (乔丹 in Chinese) and qiaodan to the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) and the SAIC's Trademark Review and Adjudication Board 10 times since 2002, data show. It even demanded compensation of USD8 million in 2013.
Beijing Higher People's Court decided 32 of the 78 trademark disputes involving Qiaodan Sports, ruling against Michael Jordan.
"We will apply to the Supreme People's Court for re-trial," Jordan said after learning of the court's ruling.
The Supreme People's Court publicly announced its rulings on 10 trademark dispute cases involving Michael Jordan, the SAIC's Trademark Review and Adjudication Board and Qiaodan Sports on Dec. 8, 2016.
Michael Jeffrey Jordan has the right to the 'Qiaodan' (乔丹) in Chinese characters but not to 'QIAODAN' or 'qiaodan' in alphabetic Chinese script, per the rulings.
Qiaodan Sports hopes to break the impasse via the lawsuit, it said. Nike has voluntarily deregistered some of its marks to show goodwill before the hearing, Qiaodan Sports representatives said, adding that the latter's right to use the Chinese-script version as a registered trademark is one the government has legally approved and that it cannot relinquish.
Nike has been producing its 'Air Jordan' brand footwear and athletic clothing since 1984. Qiaodan Sports Co. formed in 2000. Young Chinese prefer Western-style logos and script emblazoning their clothing and generally eschew garments featuring Chinese characters, making the version to which Jordan received exclusive rights virtually worthless.