Kobe Bryant fights for Chinese trade mark
First it was Michael Jordan. Now Kobe Bryant is the latest American basketball player to go to court over naming rights in China
China’s Ministry of Commerce reports that the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) has denied Nike’s opposition to a Chinese individual from Fujian province who registered the name of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. He has registered “KB-Bryant” and the Chinese alliteration for Kobe (科比) in class 18, which covers items such as handbags and wallets.
The TRAB found that Nike, who has an endorsement deal with Bryant, failed to show that Bryant was well known in fields other than basketball and that the trade marks did not infringe upon Nike’s marks.
Nike has appealed the TRAB’s ruling to the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court.
The National Basketball Association is extremely popular in China, and a number of NBA stars have had to fight against unaffiliated Chinese companies using their names.
Yao Ming, the league’s first player from China, had to deal with companies using his name to sell beer and steel pipes. Michael Jordan has filed a lawsuit against Qiaodan Sportswear, which registered the Chinese version of his name, “乔丹” (“Qiaodan”). Recently, Jeremy Lin discovered that the owner of Wuxi Risheng Sporting Goods registered the somewhat cumbersome “Jeremy S.H.L. 林书豪”mark in 2011, nearly a year before Lin’s sudden rise to fame.