Just wait until Linsanity fully takes root in China—His Airness will be all but forgotten. But until then, Michael Jordan has a battle on his hands worse than fighting the flu in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz in 1997.
Arguably the world’s most-well-known basketball star filed a lawsuit in China earlier this week claiming that a sportswear and footwear company used him name without permission. Qiaodan Sports Co. Ltd., located in the southern Fujian province, allegedly has centered its business on Jordan’s Chinese name and iconic No. 23.
“It is deeply disappointing to see a company build a business off my Chinese name without my permission, use the number 23 and even attempt to use the names of my children,” Jordan said in a statement. “I am taking this action to preserve ownership of my name and my brand.”
The Chinese company has registered the name “Qiaodan,” which is the handle by which Jordan has been known in China since he rose to fame playing with the Chicago Bulls in the 1980s. Qiaodan Sports, however, issued a statement earlier today defending the use of the name.
“Qiaodan is a trademark registered under the Chinese law by our company and the legitimate use of the trademark is protected,” Qiaodan Sports said in emailed comments, Reuters reported.
Additionally, the company denies any direct connection between its name and Jordan. A company spokesman told the Chinese media earlier today that there’s no connection between its use of the number 23 and that it’s “just a number.”
“Not everyone will think this is misleading,” the Qiaodan spokesman said. “There are so many Jordans besides the basketball player – there are many other celebrities both in the U.S. and worldwide called Jordan.”
Regardless, Jordan says that his lawsuit isn’t about money and has more to do with protecting his name. While no compensation has been named, Jordan says any monetary rewards he receives will be invested in helping to grow the game of basketball in China.
To see a video message from Jordan about the lawsuit, click here.
For more on the story, read MSNBC.