A CHINESE sportswear company accused by basketball legend Michael Jordan of using his Chinese name without authorization, told a Shanghai court yesterday that its name actually means "southern trees and grass" in ancient Chinese.
Jordan accuses Fujian Province-based Qiaodan Sports Co Ltd, of building a business off his Chinese name, the number 23 he wore and even trying to use the names of his children.
Jordan didn't appear at the Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court yesterday.
Shanghai Bairen Trade Co Ltd, the sales subsidiary of Qiaodan Sports in Shanghai, was also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit for selling the products.
Jordan has demanded Qiaodan Sports stop using his Chinese name "Qiaodan" and is seeking 50 million yuan (US$8.1 million) compensation and 1.14 million yuan for other expenses from the two companies.
At yesterday's hearing, Jordan's legal team claimed Qiaodan Sports "deliberately and aggressively" used his Chinese name without permission and misled Chinese customers into thinking he authorized and endorsed its products.
Qiaodan Sports, however, said "Qiaodan" meant "southern trees and grass" in ancient Chinese - which fits the company, as it's based in southeast China's Fujian Province.
The company said it registered Qiaodan as a trademark in China in June 2000 and had invested several billion yuan in building the brand.
It added that it had stated on several occasions that its products were not related to Jordan.
Jordan said Qiaodan Sports maliciously registered more than 100 trademarks related to his name and also his children's names in Chinese and pinyin.
The Fujian company said it never used these trademarks and registered them only to prevent malicious registration by small companies.
Qiaodan Sports also argued Jordan's name right is unprotected in China.
The court did not make a ruling yesterday.
Meanwhile, Qiaodan Sports has filed a counter suit against Michael Jordan, accusing him of damaging its reputation, and is demanding US$8 million.
The case has been accepted by a court in Quanzhou City of Fujian Province.
Qiaodan Sports said the company had been baffled by Jordan's name suit, which had caused its plan to go public to be delayed, causing great losses.