Back in 1993, it was no doubt a savvy move for Michael Jordan to obtain a trademark registration in China for the word "Jordan." What Jordan did not do, however, was also obtain a trademark registration for the Chinese translation of his name. In the IP wild west that is China, an enterprising company saw an opportunity to capitalize on this omission. It registered the Chinese translation of "Jordan" as a trademark, and began using it to sell shoes and sports equipment. The image above shows a side-by-side comparison of the two brands. In 2012, Jordan filed suit to recover the rights to his Chinese name.
Well, after years of litigation and appeals, China's highest court has finally ruled against Jordan, and in favor of the company that appropriated his name. This is a disappointing outcome for all international companies fighting to protect their trademarks in Mainland China. The Jordan decision serves as a stark reminder for any company doing business in China: not only is it imperative to always register your English trademarks, but the Chinese translation of your marks as well.
Image credit: therealjordan.com