markus-spiske-BfphcCvhl6E-unsplashWhile this space remains focused on intellectual property and all matters related, I would like to take the occasion presented by the story covered today to talk briefly about the importance of Michael Jordan. The fact that he was important isn't questioned by anyone who lived through the past thirty to thirty-five years as a sentient being, but he had a special significance to those of us who were kids at the point he was at the peak of his athletic and commercial powers. Words hardly do it justice; he was omnipresent and seemingly all-powerful, and anything that he deigned to endorse was a thing worth having, doubly so when your parents (rightfully, in retrospect) refused to accede to your whims and some clever marketing.

That's why ESPN's documentary series on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls has captured imaginations as it has, and why an otherwise anodyne copyright story where others may not have done likewise.

As was often the case in his career, Michael Jordan came out victorious in a trademark case before the Supreme People's Court, the high court of China. Jordan was suing the Chinese company Qiaodan Sports over the use of "Qiaodan" in its name, the reasons for which are a bit confusing to navigate. "Qiaodan" is the name that has been used in reference to Jordan since his playing career, but it's obviously not his actual name; rather, it's a transliteration term, as SI describes it, an approximation of the English name as it might sound or be represented in China. And as with many languages, "qiaodan" can have several meanings.

Were that the only basis for the case, Jordan may have suffered the rare loss, but SI chronicles the many trademarks filed by Qiaodan Sports that seem to be fairly blatant efforts to further any association, including names and logos closely resembling those of Jordan's brand. It's not a shock given China's reputation for IP theft and infringement, but as China's economic power has risen, more Chinese consumers can afford the genuine Nike and Jordan brand articles, thus creating the potential for brand confusion and the conditions necessary for Jordan to press a case against Qiaodan.

Thus the Chinese sports manufacturer learned a lesson that NBA players and sports fans absorbed a long time ago: don't go up against Michael Jordan and expect to win.

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