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SBD Global/December 6, 2012/Finance

Nike Hits Hurdle Over Liu Xiang Trademark, Wants Name In Chinese Characters

Nike is fighting Chinese trademark authorities to win rights to use the Mandarin name of Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang in its marketing, "the latest in a spate of trademark disputes emerging as Western companies try to build their brands in China," according to Laurie Burkitt of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The Trademark Appeal Board has previously denied Nike's trademark application, saying that the rights still belong to Chinese garment maker Shanghai Liuxiang Industrial Ltd. Co. A Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court spokesperson said that now, Nike is suing China's Trademark Appeal Board of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce to use the name. The spokesperson noted that the court heard the case last week "but has not yet made a ruling." Nike's dispute is "the latest in a growing list of court cases that have emerged over the past year over trademarks, underscoring the challenges of branding, naming rights and trademarks in China." While the Chinese government is "often criticized for its lack of intellectual-property rights enforcement, the country's own intellectual property laws are known to be so broad that they may prevent worldwide sales of products that are made in China and violate Chinese trademark laws and patent protections" (WSJ, 12/5). In Beijing, Hao Nan noted Nike's lawyer told the court that "even before Liu became famous, the company signed a contract with him that authorized commercial use of his name and image." The company already has "liuxiang" and "LX" approved as trademarks but lacks the rights to the Chinese characters of his name (CHINA DAILY, 12/5).
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