China holds public trial on Michael Jordan's trademark appeal

China holds public trial on Michael Jordan's trademark appeal

China holds public trial on Michael Jordan's trademark appeal

 China has held a rare public trial on a trademark dispute case lodged by US basketball icon Michael Jordan against a Chinese firm and the trademark authority in a bid to highlight transparency and fairness in the high-profile cases involving IPR issues.

In 2012, Jordan accused Qiaodan Sports Co.Ltd., a Chinese sportswear and shoe manufacturer of unauthorised use of his name and identity.

"Qiaodan" is the Chinese translation for Jordan.
Jordan lodged an appeal to the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board of the State Administration for Industry & Commerce to revoke the trademarks in dispute, but this was rejected.

Later, Jordan filed two lawsuits against the adjudication of the trademark authority but lost both.

Supreme People's Court (SPC) upheld the adjudication on the grounds that the Chinese translation "Qiaodan" is the translation of a common family name and does not necessarily refer to the basketballer's name only.

In addition, the Chinese translation "Qiaodan," as featured in the trademark, differs from the Chinese translation of "Maike'er Qiaodan," or "Michael Jordan."

Besides, the graphic part of the trademark, a silhouette of a man playing basketball is a general image featuring no facial appearances, making identification difficult, according to the verdict given at the second trial.

In 2015, Jordan appealed to the SPC for a retrial. The SPC accepted the appeal on the basis of the Administrative Procedural Law and heard the case yesterday.

Yesterday's trial featured the court investigation, debates and final statements. A verdict has not been reached, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Court debates centred on a slew of issues, including the legal bases of the rights to a name, whether the trademark necessarily leads to identification of Jordan and whether Qiaodan Sports registered the brand name with intentional malice.

China says it has toughened its stance against Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringement and fake products through a variety of measures, and the judicature has become a major authority in IPR disputes.

Court rulings are playing an increasingly important role in defining legal boundaries and codes of conduct, Song Xiaoming, head of the SPC's IPR tribunal said.

Putting administrative powers regarding patent, trademark and other IPR issues under judicial scrutiny has helped streamline law enforcement and promote the development of related industries, Song said.

A guideline released in December by the central cabinet ordered enhanced IPR protection to create a sound environment for innovators, vowing stricter punishments and saying protection in emerging sectors will be prioritised.

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