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Michael Jordan defends his name against Chinese company

Basketball player Michael Jordan smiles during a news conference in Hong Kong 21 May 2004. Now, he has filed a complaint with a Chinese court over copyright violations of his name.

Adriene Hill: Basketball star Michael Jordan is suing a Chinese company that makes sportswear. He says Qiodan is using his name without permission, and has filed suit in a Chinese court.

For more we go to the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing. Good morning.

Martin Patience: Good morning.

Hill: What is Michael Jordan accusing this Chinese company of doing wrong, exactly?

Patience: Well he's accusing this firm of unauthorized use of his name. Now Michael Jordan in Chinese is called "Qiodan." And certainly in China -- China is basketball crazy, and Michael Jordan or "Qiodan" is a name that can be used to sell sportswear. So that's what he's accusing this firm of doing -- unofficially using his name.

Hill: So what happens from here, then?

Patience: Well he's filed a case in a Chinese court. It's not clear how that will proceed. But certainly this is a continuing issue in China. I think the argument would be that they're not using the Michael Jordan brand per se, they're using the Qiodan brand, which is obviously his Chinese name.

Hill: Now in the past we've also heard allegations of entirely fake Apple stores; almost completely recreated American trucks -- like a Ford F 150; what's going on?

Patience: Well, the rule of law in China is weakened copyright laws are often flaunted. Just to give you an example, in Beijing, I don't know where'd I'd go to buy a genuine DVD of a Hollywood film. That's how pervasive the problem is.

In terms of copyright, China would say that it's a developing country; this is an issue in the developing world. Authorities say they are trying to take tougher measures. But when you speak to companies here, they say this is a problem that the Chinese authorities simply haven't got a hold of.

Hill: The BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing, thanks.

Patience: Thank you.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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