Chinese Courts Allow Blatant Ripoff of Air Jordan Brand

China adds to its status as the honey badger of intellectual property law.

chinese-air-jordan-ripoff-qiaodan

China adds to its status as the honey badger of intellectual property law.

AFP (“Michael Jordan loses China trademark suit“):

A Beijing court has dismissed a trademark case brought by US basketball superstar Michael Jordan against a company using a similar name and logo to his Nike-produced brand, a report said.

The former Chicago Bull is arguably the most popular international basketball star in China and is known in the country as “Qiaodan”, a Chinese version of his name.

He asked Chinese authorities in 2012 to revoke the trademark of Qiaodan Sports Co, accusing the sportswear firm of misleading consumers about its ties to the six-time NBA champion.

As well as the name, Qiaodan’s products carry a silhouette of a leaping basketball player resembling the “Jumpman” logo used by US sporting goods giant Nike to promote its Air Jordan brand.

Authorities refused Jordan’s request, and a lower court in Beijing did the same. He appealed to the Beijing Higher People’s Court, which has ruled against him, the Chinese news portal Sohu reported.

“‘Jordan’ is not the only possible reference for ‘Qiaodan’ in the trademark under dispute,” it cited a transcript of the verdict as saying.

“In addition, ‘Jordan’ is a common surname used by Americans,” the court added according to the report Monday, and the logo was in the shape of a person with no facial features, so that it was “hard” for consumers to identify it as Jordan.

I’m guessing “Jordan” isn’t a very common surname used by Chinese. And, while the basketball player silhouette is somewhat generic, it’s clearly meant to mimic the iconic “Jumpman” image—especially when used in conjunction with the Jordan name.

While this is small fish compared to the government-backed cyber hacks and commercial espionage for which China has become infamous, it’s yet another example of the country’s blatant disregard for global norms. It’s long past time to demand that Beijing obey the rules that it agreed to in order to become part of the World Trade Organization and that are the baseline of international commerce.

FILED UNDER: Asia, Economics and Business, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s long past time to demand that Beijing obey the rules that it agreed to in order to become part of the World Trade Organization and that are the baseline of international commerce.

    I think those demands have been made. Repeatedly. And ignored. Repeatedly. So, seeing as demanding things the Chinese have no apparent intention of ever giving, what should the other member states of the WTO do? This is a serious question, as I find it hard to see the US imposing any sanctions with enough bite to actually get the Chinese attention. Our economy is too dependent upon them.




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  2. JohnMcC says:

    Given the weakness of the PRC economy at present and the strength of the US’s, we might have a moment for acting strongly. But like my Missouri friend above, I don’t know the nature of the possible actions.




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  3. Franklin says:

    Who cares? As long as I can get cheap crap at WalMart, everything will be fine.

    /sarcasm off




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  4. T says:

    The shoes pictured look alright. If they didnt have the goofy “Mykal Jordon” logo on the back, i’d probably buy them.

    I also wonder what the price point for these shoes are. Chinese have to know that they are an off brand and subsequently should be priced lower than the real thing.




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  5. Dave Schuler says:

    I keep trying to explain to people how “intellectual property” is a meaningless noise in China but nobody ever believes me. Maybe this will help.

    Among the countries with whom we are trying to reach an agreement in the TPP there are several who have what amount to open imports policies with China. I wonder if our diplomats negotiating the TPP agreements realize that means open season on U. S. intellectual property?




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  6. Andrei Vfeked says:

    Two-time Grand Slam champion tennis player Svetlana Kuznetsova has been sporting clothes from this brand quite prominently since 2013. No doubt this was a pretty lucrative deal for her (she dropped Fila as her clothing sponsor), most especially since she is clearly on the downslope of her career.




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