Former NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan has filed a suit against a Chinese sportswear and shoe manufacturer for "unauthorized use" of his name and identity, his attorney said on Thursday.
Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles during the 1990s, has been known in China by the name "Qiaodan" - the Chinese translation of Jordan - since he was first seen on Chinese television program playing for the U.S. basketball team in the 1984 Olympics.
The Chinese company, Qiaodan Sports Company Limited, has registered in 2000 and used the name "Qiaodan".
Jordan and his attorneys in Jun He Law Offices believed that the company "build a business" of Jordan's Chinese name without permission, and it also used the number 23 (the jersey Jordan wore during his NBA career) and "even attempt" to use the names of Jordan's children.
"Inspired by Yao Ming's case here in China, we had filed suit in a Chinese court on February 21 against Qiaodan Sports Company Limited," said Christine Kang, a partner of Jun He Law Offices.
China's popular basketball player Yao Ming has won his suit against a sportswear company in central China for using his name and signature without permission last year.
"Any monetary awards I might receive will be invested in growing the sport of basketball in China," said Jordan in a statement. "I am taking this action to preserve ownership of my name and my brand."
According to Jordan's official website, Qiaodan Sport's misuse of Michael Jordan's name and identity "has misled and continues to mislead consumers" in China.
Qiaodan Sports has filed for over 100 similar trademarks including trademarks containing the number 23. In the meanwhile, the company has filed applications for trademarks consisting of Jordan's sons' names, Jeffrey and Marcus, in Chinese characters and the associated pinyin Romanization.
"Qiaodan Sports has knowingly profited from this infringement of Michael Jordan's naming rights," claimed the website. "Its aggressive marketing tactics have misled the Chinese consumers."
Though Jordan claimed the complaint was "not about money", his attorney admitted that Jordan also asked for compensation for moral damage in the case.
"It is the first time for Mr. Jordan to conduct a transnational litigation and will focus on the right of his name, but we also reserve the right to fight for more," said Kang.