By Sportswriter Liu Yang
BEIJING, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) on Thursday overturned an earlier ruling by Beijing courts to favor Michael Jordan's trademark appeal against a Chinese firm that allegedly infringed upon the name right of the NBA icon.
The SPC's judgment was broadcast live on its website. The court issued different judgments in the 10 combined cases. It approved Jordan's appeal that the trademark of his name's translation in Chinese characters infringed on his right to own his name and violated the country's trademark law.
The top court also ordered the trademark bureau to recall its previous verdict and to issue a new ruling on the use of the Chinese characters in the brand. Meanwhile, the court ruled that the former Chicago Bulls star does not own the right of name for Qiaodan, Chinese pinyin transcription of his surname Jordan, and held that the Qiaodan Sports Co. Ltd did not register the trademark through deception or other improper means.
Jordan released a public statement after the final trial of the years-long case.
"I'm happy that the Supreme People's court has recognized the right to protect my name through the ruling in the trademark case. Chinese consumers deserve to know Qiaodan Sports and its products have no connection to me," the statement said.
The former NBA star has a worldwide reputation and is well-known in China as "Qiaodan." He said he respected the Chinese legal system and looked forward to the Shanghai court's rulings on a separate naming rights case.
In addition to his name, Jordan's old jersey number 23, basketball player logo and even names of his children, were also registered as the company's brands. He has made appeals against Chinese sportswear company since 2012, but these were rejected by the trademark bureau of the Beijing court.
The Chinese firm said in a statement on its official microblog that it respected the court's judgement and would carry out proper protection on the firm's products and their intellectual property rights.
Ma Dongxiao, attorney for the firm, told Xinhua the judgment wouldn't effect most of the products and the company could continue to use "Qiaodan."
Liu Ning, a Chinese trademark law expert, explained that the company would be protected if the controversial trademarks had been registered within five years. Jordan sued in 2012, and only three related trademarks after 2008, mostly drinks, swimming suits and decorations, were banned.
"The final judgment proves importance of credibility and integrity for companies, and China will spare no efforts to protect intellectual property, and consumers' rights and interests should not be infringed upon by any means," said Liu.
"Consumers would intend to buy Qiaodan company's sports goods if they were misled to believe that the brand was associated with Michael Jordan. It's simple, and the company has to pay some price if there is any deception, regardless of whether or they could keep using the brand," Liu added.