Air Qiaodan: an examination of transliteration and trademark squatting in China based on Jordan vs Qiaodan Sports

Thomas Alexander Baker, Xindan Liu, Natasha Brison, Nathan David Pifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

PurposeFor this study, the Jordan case provided the context for investigating Chinese trademark law with the purpose of answering how and why Jordan lost the legal rights to the Chinese version of his name in China. The results from that investigation were used to better explain the phenomena of transliteration and trademark squatting in relation to sport brands and athletes. Based on the results of this case study, suggestions were formulated for protecting sport brands and athletes from trademark squatting in China. Design/methodology/approachWe used traditional legal methodology to investigate the influence of transliteration on trademark squatting in China based on the real-life context provided by the facts in Jordan (Baxter & Jack, 2008; Yin, 2013). First, all reported materials from Chinese courts on the Jordan case were collected and analyzed by the research team, which included an investigator who is fluent in Chinese. Second, we conducted a collection, review, and analysis of China’s trademark law, the international trademark law that controls court decisions in China, and the literature on trademark squatting in China. The results from our investigations were used to formulate a description of Jordan that details how the process of transliteration facilitates trademark squatting in China. FindingsThe findings revealed a loophole within the Chinese administration of trademark regulation through which trademark squatters use the process of transliteration to infringe on trademark rights belonging to senior, foreign brands. Furthermore, the findings lead us to suggest that sport brands are particularly vulnerable to this type of trademark squatting in China. In Jordan, Qiaodan Sports exploited the transliteration loophole to obtain trademark ownership of Qiaodan to the detriment of Brand Jordan and, to a lesser extent, Chinese consumers. Research limitations/implicationsThis study contributes to the literature by conceptualizing a "transliteration loophole" that facilitates trademark squatting in China. Further, this is the first study to focus on how the concepts of transliteration and trademark squatting influence celebrity athletes and sport brands. Practical implicationsFor foreign celebrity athletes and sport brands, the case should alert them of their vulnerability to trademark squatting of transliterations assigned to them by sport broadcasters or sport consumers in China.For instructors of sport law and sport marketing courses, the Jordan case provides teachable lessons on the value of trademark, the process of trademark squatting, and the process of transliteration and its relation to trademark squatting in China. Originality/valueThe focus on sport as well as the suggestions offered for sport brands and celebrity athletes make this study the first of its kind within the literature on trademark squatting in China. The importance and impact of the Jordan case is one that attracts attention and should result in significant impact in the literature and practical impact for the field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 6 2017

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