SHANGHAI Feb 23 Basketball legend Michael Jordan has filed a lawsuit in China against a Chinese sportswear company, accusing the firm of unauthorised use of his name.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame recipient and former Chicago Bulls star said on Thursday that Qiaodan Sports, a company located in the southern Fujian province, had built its business around his Chinese name and jersey number without his permission.
"It is deeply disappointing to see a company build a business off my Chinese name without my permission, use the number 23 and even attempt to use the names of my children," Jordan said in a statement.
"This complaint is not about money. It's about principle and protecting my name," he added.
Jordan is known as Qiaodan in basketball-mad China that has produced its own basketball superstar in Yao Ming. The moniker was registered by Qiaodan Sports, the statement said. It did not specify what compensation Jordan was seeking from the company.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Chinese company defended its use of the name.
"Qiaodan is a trademark registered under the Chinese law by our company and the legitimate use of the trademark is protected," Qiaodan Sports said in emailed comments.
Over the past few years, the company has become the Olympic partner of Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. And in 2010, it became the official partner of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
Jordan filed the case on Tuesday in a Chinese court.
NBA breakout star Jeremy Lin may face similar issues in China further down the road as a woman in the eastern province of Jiangsu has already registered his name, in Chinese characters, as a trademark, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Lin himself is applying for a trademark in the United States to the term "Linsanity", which is widely used to describe his meteoric rise to fame, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.
Apple Inc faces similar legal tangles in China. On Thursday, a Shanghai court denied a request in a trademark case by Chinese technology firm Proview Technology (Shenzhen) to stop Apple from selling its iPad tablet in the city.
Proview claims it owns the iPad trademark in China, while Apple says the trademark was bought from the firm years ago.