“His Airness” Still Fighting to Protect His IP Rights

IP News and Information

He’s known as the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, as well as one of the greatest athletes of all time in any sport. Michael Jordan, aka MJ, Air Jordan and His Airness, among others, is also one of the highest earning athletes of all time, in any sport. He has made hundreds of millions of dollars in his career from not only his contracts but also from his endorsement deals and other business endeavors. There is no doubt that Michael Jordan and his image are worth a boatload of money. In fact, it’s his image that continues to come into question. That’s not to say his image in and of itself is in question, but rather the use of his image and likeness to sell products.

Protecting What Belongs to Him

Mr. Jordan has never shied away from competition, whether it was on the court or in the boardroom. Likewise, he has never shied away from protecting his image that has earned him all that sponsorship money over the years, even though he has long-since retired from his active playing days in the NBA. In fact, recently, His Airness won a court battle against a grocery store that was using his publicity rights without permission. The court awarded him nearly $9 million in that case. However, that is not the only such case Jordan has been battling, which involves his intellectual property. Jordan is also actively going after a company in China in a case that will soon be heading to the country’s Supreme Court.

Sports Company Confusing Consumers?

At issue is the company’s use of Air Jordan’s Chinese translated name: “Qiaodan.” Qiaodan Sports has been selling apparel with that name along with Mr. Jordan’s jersey number 23, which is synonymous with MJ. In his suit, Mr. Jordan is accusing Qiaodan Sports of trademark infringement. The suit claims that by using the translation of his Chinese name along with his number 23 to sell jerseys, Qiaodan Sports is confusing consumers and leading them to believe that Mr. Jordan is a company spokesperson or that he is behind the brand and promotes its products.

Fight to the End

However, to this point, Mr. Jordan finds himself in an uncustomary place; that is on the losing side of a “court” battle. While Air Jordan almost always won on the hardwood, in this court of law battle, so far he has not had a lot of success. The lower court, and the court of appeals have already both ruled in favor of the company in question. But undaunted as always, Mr. Jordan won’t just sit back and take this battle lying down. He is ready to go all the way to the Chinese Supreme Court in order to protect his image and his public persona. Despite the fact that the two lower courts have already ruled against him, Jordan will press on until the Supreme Court issues its ruling. However, it appears that this could be the one time in Mr. Jordan’s life that he ends up on the losing end of a hard-fought battle on the court.