Michael Jordan, is the former professional basketball player who heads his own division at the world’s biggest sporting-goods maker Nike Inc., sued a Chinese maker of sportswear and shoes for use of his name without authorization.
Jordan, who had ever won six National Basketball Association championships with the Chicago Bulls, filed the lawsuit with a Chinese court against Qiaodan Sports Co., according to a statement distributed by PR Newswire. The Chinese company, which is preparing to raise 1.06 billion yuan ($168 million) in a listing in Shanghai, is accused of using Jordan’s Chinese name and jersey number 23 without permission.
NBA games shown on state broadcaster China Central Television and Chinese players including Yao Ming have helped make basketball the nation’s second-most popular sport. Nike, which counts Jordan and current NBA stars Kobe Bryant and Lebron James among its endorsers, said its sales in China for the quarter ended Nov. 30 rose 28 percent from a year earlier to $650 million when excluding currency changes.
Asked if Nike was involved in the lawsuit, Josh Gartner, a spokesman for Jordan’s legal team, said by email that the former NBA player “is employing his own legal counsel.”
Qiaodan Sports spokesman Tian Sheng didn’t answer calls today to his mobile phone. The company’s name and its trademark are the same as the Chinese version of Jordan’s name.
The Chinese company, with registered capital of 450 million yuan and based in Southern China’s Fujian province, won approval from the nation’s securities regulator in November for an initial public offering of 112.5 million shares.