Michael Jordan’s China Lawsuit Takes a Sad Turn

April 10, 2013

You may recall that Michael Jordan sued a Chinese sportswear company in 2012, claiming that they infringed upon Jordan’s Chinese name and several logos that were similar to those used by Jordan or his sponsors. The case was filed in Shanghai and basically has just sat there for many, many moons (I assume pending settlement negotiations). A minor news blip on the radar today: Qiaodan (it was reported) filed a suit against Jordan.

Back in December, there was a rumor about a counterclaim, basically that Jordan’s case was crap and that the smear on their good reputation was harming their business. For example, their planned IPO withered and died.

My reaction at the time? “This is amusing.” Why did I say that? Because Jordan’s case obviously has merit. The man was definitely famous in China at the time the marks were filed, and I assume he can prove that. The fact that this is a sportswear company and that several of the logos are basically copies of Jordan-type logos seals the deal. Oh yeah, the company also filed the names of Jordan’s kids as trademarks. Malicious lawsuit? I think not.

I also said that there was a 1% chance that the company would really file a counterclaim. If you ask me, they’d have to be stupid to do so since it’s such an obvious loser and transparent attempt at influencing the judge/negotiation. Lame strategy.

As I’ve told you many times in the past, you really shouldn’t listen to me. My predictions suck. They actually went ahead and filed against Jordan, according to news reports. I assumed earlier today that it was a counterclaim and that all of this would be dealt with in Shanghai, but as I read up on the news this evening, I found it was a separate suit filed in Fujian Province. Still a ridiculous suit, though, and the case should not be accepted (but you never know – these guys essentially filed the case on their home turf, and you know what that means).

The WSJ was nice enough to interview me about the case this afternoon (and didn’t mention my awful prediction). I incorrectly told them that the original case and the latest fiing would be dealt with at the same time, but that was based on my assumption that this was a counterclaim filed with the same court. Oops.

If you look closely at the video, you might be able to see the toy Black Knight (from The Holy Grail) my sister gave me, perched on the bookshelf in my office. It was in the frame when I was on Skype anyway; I hope it wasn’t cropped out. I haven’t actually seen the WSJ feed since my Net connection at home isn’t allowing me to stream anything. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

4 thoughts on “Michael Jordan’s China Lawsuit Takes a Sad Turn

  1. Marius Van Andel

    For what it is worth, this whole trademark crap is for the birds . . . . and only good for lawyers of the IP-ilk. The whole idea should be gotten rid off as soon as possible. The suggestion that a trademark is on a par with intellectual property such as patents and copyright is just ludicrous.

    1. Stan Post author

      LOL. I definitely agree that trademarks are very different and should not be treated the same as patents and copyrights. On the other hand, I would maintain that there is value in making sure that consumers know where their products/services are coming from. I think that’s the original, and best, justification for trademark protection. Whether that then allows for protection of things like keywords and stops folks embedding certain words into their HTML tags, well, that’s another issue. I do think that the trademark community has taken things a bit too far in recent years.

  2. Laurentius Metaal

    Nowadays it is not so much the product anymore. You have OEM manufacturers executing your designs and in some case even doing the designing for you. The only thing that ties your company to such, generic prodicts, is your brandname and your logo. I would go as far as saying that in many cases brands are all the IP a company has. Brands show they have a channel both logistically and commercially within the market and creating them through branding and advertising is massively expensive. By the way the little Black night is not only there but walks around in the background and does saltos on the bookshelf