May 16, 2011, 11:35 AM EST
When you’re an international brand — and make no mistake, Yao Ming is an international brand — then you have to work internationally to protect it.
Xinhua News Agency reported Friday that the injured Houston Rockets center had sued Wuhan Yunhe Sharks Sportswear Co. for putting his name and logo “Yao Ming Era” on its shoes. It said the lawsuit was filed in Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province.
Yao has a licensing agreement with Reebok. Copyright infringement is widespread in China, with rampant illegal copying of products from software to music and even medicine.
Yao’s future in the NBA is in question, a series of ankle and foot injuries have him a free agent. He wants to play again, and some team may take a shot on him with an incentive-laden contract, but whether he can ever step on the court again in a meaningful way remains to be seen.
But either way, his name and brand have a lot of value. Value that needs to be protected.
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