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Jordan Wins Back The Rights To His Chinese Name

Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has fought a four-year legal battle over a Chinese company's use of his Chinese name, Qiaodan.
WFAE
Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has fought a four-year legal battle over a Chinese company's use of his Chinese name, Qiaodan.

Charlotte Hornets owner and basketball legend Michael Jordan is a household name in the U.S. – and in basketball-crazy China. But there, he had to go to court to win back rights to the Chinese version of his name.

In a ruling this week, China’s top court overturned lower court rulings and sided with Jordan, at least partially.

Jordan is known in China as Qiao Dan - two Chinese characters that sound a bit like his last name.  Since 2012, he's fought a legal battle with a Chinese company that trademarked his name in China.

Qiaodan Sports Company sells shoes and clothing through about 6,000 outlets.  

Under the court ruling, the company gets to keep the romanized version of its name - Qiaodan. But the Supreme People's Court said the company has to give up its Chinese trademarks to Jordan.

The ruling made no mention of any financial penalty.

Jordan said in a statement reported by Associated Press that Chinese consumers deserve to know he's not associated with the company or its products.

"Chinese consumers deserve to know that Qiaodan Sports and its products have no connection to me. Nothing is more important than protecting your own name, and today's decision shows the importance of that principle," he said.

The company defended its actions, but said it would respect the decision.

Jordan has been known by those two Chinese characters since 1984, when he appeared on Chinese TV as a member of the U.S. Olympic basketball team.  

He’s so popular there that the Supreme People’s Court live-streamed the decision announcement on its website, according to the AP.

It was a rare victory for a foreign brand in China, where courts often side with local companies in trademark disputes.