Saturday, August 1, 2015

Fashion Legallaire Goes to China: Michael Jordan Lost the Rights to His Name in China

Business Insider
Michael Jordan lost the rights to his name in China in a recent trademark lawsuit he brought to a Beijing Municipal High People’s Court against a company using a similar name and logo for his Nike in April 2014.

China is home to lax protection of intellectual property rights, many counterfeit goods and brands and Jordans by Nike is no exception. The chinese imitator is Qiaodan Sports, a Chinese sportswear company based in Fujian province.

Since 2012, Jordan has unsuccessfully sued Qiaodan Sports for  misappropriating his name and likeness. In this lawsuit, Jordan asked Qiaodan Sports to deregister 78 trademarks.

China Wire reports that Qiaodan Sports, pronounced “chew dahn” sounds very similar to Jordan. In fact, it is a Mandarin transliteration of “Jordan” used to refer to Michael Jordan. Also, Qiodan uses the number 23 and a jumping man logo to sell basketball shoes and jerseys. Which would naturally mislead any consumer in China that Michael Jordan was behind the brand.

In the U.S. legal system, it is clear that Qiaodan infringed on Jordan’s trademark rights. However, after a series of countersuits, it is clear that Chinese law backs it national companies even when it is clear that their success derives from the creations of others. In a June 18th verdict, the Beijing court ruled that “Qiaodan” is not only the name that corresponds to “Jordan,” and “Jordan” is only an ordinary surname of American people, not a full name.  Also, the logo is in the shape of a person with no facial features, so the current evidence is not enough to prove that Qiaodan” determinedly points to Michael Jordan.

The six time NBA champion plans to appeal to the Supreme People’s Court for a retrial.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fashion Legallaire Goes to China: What Copyright, China? No Incentive for IP in China

As a recent expat to Guangzhou, China, the biggest manufacturing city in the world, I see firsthand the beginning and end of many counterfeited goods. Seven days a week, Guangzhou's factories produce manufactured goods for branded and non-branded companies alike.  For example, Louis Vuitton has a manufacturing company here, so naturally the art of making precise counterfeit LV products is perfected here. Sure there is pride in buying the real deal, but a $7 counterfeit in a subway station, just may be your dirty little secret.

As an American fashion law enthusiast, I learned that intellectual property is the crux of commercializing creativity. Before coming to China, I further learned that China is the worst country when it comes to abiding by international intellectual property laws.  But now that I am here, I think I see why there is no incentive for many Chinese manufacturers to follow intellectual property laws.  It begs the question, "what copyright, China?"

So countdown the ways with me....

1. Most of the branded imported textile goods are manufactured in China so it is very easy to not only make items for export, but to keep the manufactured items to sell in the local markets.

2. Factories mess up sometimes. A wrong stitch here or there means that the item needs to be tossed- usually right out to the street or local market.

3. Even if a Chinese manufacturer does follow ip laws here, there are many more people here that do not follow it, so it may cost more financially to abide by the rules in the long run.

4. In China the labor is cheaper and fashion companies take advantage of this fact at their own expense. The cost of production for manufactured goods is so low that branded companies choose not to move its manufacturing out of China.

5. While the supply for counterfeited goods is high, the demand is even higher. Counterfeited goods is a billion dollar business. *Think Louis Vuitton in the subway*

Counterfeited products manufactured in China range from pharmaceuticals, beauty products, technology, to fashion. It has been very amusing guessing whether something is real or fake here; but usually, the price determines that.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Britain's Court of Appeals Confirms Rihanna vs Topshop (1-0)

Remember in 2013 when Rihanna sued UK fashion brand Top Shop for using her image on one of their t-shirts (read it here) and won  $5 million in damages? Well Brittain's High Court of Appeals confirmed the "passing off" ruling in her favor.

 As WWD reports, "last November, Topshop appealed a decision by a judge at Her Majesty's High Court in London prohibiting the retailer from selling T-shirts featuring a particular image of Rihanna." 

Other interesting observations: what British law calls "passing off"  U.S. law calls  "trademark infringement." And apparently, Topshop failingly argued that it had the right to pass off Rihanna's image arguing that it had used the likes of famous artists before.