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Michael Jordan sues Chinese apparel company

Feb 22, 2012, 10:30 PM EDT

Michael Jordan AP

It’s been 14 years since Michael Jordan stepped on an NBA court (Washington? I choose not to remember that stop) and he is still the most valuable brand in basketball worldwide. By miles and miles and miles.

Which is why NBA legend and current Bobcats owner Jordan — along with — Nike has a team of lawyers that protect that brand. And they have turned their guns on a Chinese firm, Qiaodan, and sued the company that manufactures sports apparel and shoes.

You don’t know that name but that is the nickname Jordan has gone by in China since he first came to popularity nearly three decades ago. This is a clear attempt to profit off his name.

In a statement released through his spokeswoman, Jordan says he’s worked hard to establish his name and calls the issue “deeply disappointing to see a company build a business off my Chinese name without my permission, use the number 23 and even attempt to use the names of my children.”

Jordan says he’s “This complaint is not about money, it’s about principle and protecting my name.”

It’s about money.

It is about protecting his name — which when put on Nike shoes and apparel is worth a whole lot of money. Particularly in the emerging massive market that is China. (Most all of which is made in China anyway.)

This follows from the “any time someone says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money” principle. That doesn’t mean Jordan and his army of lawyers is wrong here. Enforcing it in China may not be so simple, however.

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