traverselegal - May 22, 2015 - Trademark Law
With China being the second largest economy, many western companies are trying to expand out into China with their products and services. However, many of those companies are also finding out that it can be rather difficult to protect their trademark brands within China. For example, basketball star Michael Jordan filed a trademark lawsuit in China against a Chinese company for trademark infringement. Qiaodan Sports was using Jordan’s Chinese name and his jersey number to sell their sportswear and products without his permission. Jordan filed his trademark dispute in the Chinese People’s Court of Beijing with what many would consider an extremely strong trademark case. However, since the Chinese court considered the name of “Jordan” to be a highly common name in the United States and not unique enough, Jordan lost his initial case since he could not claim uniqueness to create exclusive rights to own the Chinese translation of his name, which is Qiaodan. He has appealed to a higher court in China in hopes to win and finally gain control of his name and brand in China.
Jordan is not the only one to have faced problems with trademark protection in China. Castel, a French wine company, and Kentucky Fried Chicken have faced similar issues with trademark protection of their brands in China. Even with the filing for an international trademark under the Madrid International Trademark System with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), some countries, like China, have their own laws and legal procedures that companies may need to consider to ensure proper protection of their trademark before they either try to conduct business in or file a trademark infringement lawsuit in China. Before moving forward with your trademark into other international markets, proper research and planning may make a significant difference in the long run.