Michael Jordan right to a person’s name

In the Benelux we do not know an exclusive right to our own name. If a company wants to claim a family name as its exclusive name, it will have to file a trademark registration. In the EU, it is sometimes possible to tackle name-hijacking, if it is clear that this name was registered as a trademark in bad faith. In some countries, like China, that protection goes a bit further and there is such a thing as a right to a "personal name".

Michael Jordan has been fighting Qiaodan Sports for years. This company has registered approximately 500 trademarks with variations of names of the major NBA basketball players. In the same way a silhouette of a basketball player was registered with the name Qiaodan (“Jordan” in Chinese characters). The trademark was registered for clothing, shoes, etc. in class 25.

The Supreme People Court (Chinese Supreme Court) holds that Michael Jordan is a well-known public figure with a huge reputation (well beyond the scope of basketball). Jordan is known under the name Qiaodan in Chinese characters and is therefore entitled to this name. The Chinese consumer may think that there is a connection between the trademark owner (Qiaodan Sports) and Michael Jordan, or that he has licensed or given permission for this use. For that reason, the trademark registration is considered in bad faith.



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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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