China's highest court ruled in favor of basketball legend Michael Jordan Thursday over the rights to his last name written in Chinese characters, winding down a four-year trademark battle with a local sportswear company.
The Supreme People’s Court ruled that Jordan’s Chinese name, Qiaodan—pronounced “Chee-ow-dahn”—is “well-recognized,” in the country, Bloomberg reports, and that a company called Qiaodan Sports Co. must relinquish its trademark.
The family-owned business based in China’s southeast Fujian province registered the trademark over a decade ago, and was first sued by Jordan in 2012, according to Bloomberg. Initial attempts to settle the matter had reportedly been struck down by lower courts.
“I am happy that the Supreme People’s Court has recognized the right to protect my name through its ruling in the trademark cases,” Jordan said in an emailed statement cited by Bloomberg. “Chinese consumers deserve to know that Qiaodan Sports and its products have no connection to me.”
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The company operates some 6,000 stores that sell shoes and sportswear across the country, Bloomberg said. Its trademark for the Chinese characters will have to be returned to the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce, then to be re-awarded to Jordan. The rights to the Romanized version, Qiaodan, will not belong to Jordan, however.