The Chinese company sued by retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan over unauthorized use of his name said Thursday that they have exclusive right over their registered trademark "Qiaodan" and the use of the trademark is under legal protection by the Chinese law.
Jordan announced on Wednesday that he had filed a lawsuit in China against Qiaodan Sports Company Limited, a sportswear and shoe manufacturer, over unauthorized use of his name.
The lawsuit says the firm deliberately misled Chinese consumers about ties to the six-time NBA champion, and Jordan is taking action to preserve ownership of his name and brand.
However, the company said in a statement Thursday that they have not been informed to make a responding yet by any domestic court.
"Qiaodan is a trademark registered under the Chinese law by our company and the legitimate use of the trademark is protected," said the company in a statement. "We have always upheld the sportsmanship since our founding. We have continued to support the development of sports in China and have run the business honestly."
The company was registered in 2000 and used the name "Qiaodan".
According to Wang Xiaopeng, who had been Chinese basketball star Yao Ming's attorney in his lawsuit against Coca Cola for improper use of his image, the use of "Qiaodan" can hardly constitute an infringement of Jordan's right of name.
"Whether there is an infringement depends on whether the firm, in their business operation, use Jordan's name, image and reputation directly, and whether they have misled consumers with Jordan's identity," said Wang.
Jordan has been known in China by the name Qiaodan since he became a global basketball star in the 1980s, his playmaking skills being seen on Chinese television since the 1987 NBA All-Star Game, the first NBA telecast in China.
"Unfortunately a Chinese sports company has chosen to build a Chinese business off my Chinese name without my permission," Jordan said. "It pains me to see someone misrepresent my identity. I have no other choice but to turn to the courts. I feel the need to protect my name, my identity and the Chinese consumers."