Qiaodan Sports countersues Jordan over company name

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Qiaodan Sports Co Ltd, which was sued by the former US basketball player Michael Jordan for unauthorized use of his name in 2012, has filed a countersuit against the star, claiming his lawsuit misled customers and the public.

Jordan's suit stopped the company from getting listed, and the company is asking him to restore its reputation, Qiaodan Sports said in a statement sent to China Daily.

The Chinese sportswear manufacturer, based in Fujian province, has also requested $8 million in compensation. The claim was filed with Quanzhou Intermediate People's Court on April 2, the company said.

Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles during the 1990s, is known in China by the name Qiaodan - the Chinese translation of Jordan - since he was first seen on Chinese TV playing for the US basketball team in the 1984 Olympic Games.

"Michael Jordan has not received notice from relevant authorities about Qiaodan's countersuit," a spokesperson for his legal advisers told China Daily on Tuesday.

Legal experts were mixed in their opinions on the case.

Fu Minrong, a lawyer with Xinwenhui Law Firm in Shanghai, said he did not think Jordan's suit in 2012 infringed the company's reputation.

He added the new suit did not affect the previous one as the two are independent.

Li Shaowei, an associate in the investment bank department of China Securities Co Ltd, added that he thought Jordan's lawsuit had had an adverse effect on Qiaodan's listing process.

Li said Jordan had demanded that Qiaodan stop using the name and trademark, which may have affected the company's business.

Qiaodan Sports has been using the brand since 2000, and has invested in brand-building over the years, Li said.

"It is unknown whether the company could have continued its listing process, until Michael Jordan's suit."

Qiaodan had planned to list in Shanghai by the end of March 2012, and the China Security Regulatory Commission had already approved its initial public offering. But it is still awaiting final approval from the CSRC.

"Michael Jordan's lawsuit in February 2012 stopped the company from being listed," Qiaodan Sports said.

Jordan accused Qiaodan Sports of building its business around his name in Chinese and jersey number, without his permission. He asked the company to stop and requested tens of millions of yuan in compensation.

Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People's Court accepted the case in 2012, but is yet to reach a decision.

"Such cases usually need one year to get decided, but this one may need longer time, as it involves foreigners," Fu said.

The Jordan legal team's spokesperson insisted the former NBA star was "not trying to slow the process".

Qiaodan has denied Jordan's claims and said the company had simply used a Chinese translation of what it considers a common foreign family name.

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