“Linsanity” Over Trademarks

First it was Michael Jordan, now Jeremy Lin is involved with a trademark dispute with China.  Although Jeremy Lin himself is applying for a U.S. trademark to the phrase “Linsanity”–a phrase describing his instant climb to success with the New York Knicks–Lin and Nike are facing problems trademarking Jeremy Lin’s name, similar to the problems Michael Jordan is facing (check out previous post). 

A Chinese company has registered the Chinese equivalent of Jeremy Lin’s name with the Chinese trademark office, and this will inevitably be a tough hurdle for Lin and Nike to clear.  The company, Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Company, is involved in the same type of sales as Nike, namely sports apparel, and this will make the issue fall even more in favor of the Chinese company.  Currently, Lin is getting paid a salary of a measly $800,000 when some say he is worth $15 million; this dispute over trademarking his name will not help in the royalties department. 

Why is all this happening with Chinese companies?  The requirements for a trademark in China are much more lenient than here in the United States.  In the United States, the trademark must be in actual use or have an identified intended use.  However, in China, the line drawing is very simple; first-in-use gets the rights whether the mark was in use or not.  The race for these rights seems to have been on before Lin and Nike even got a chance.  Should another company, with no connection to the athlete, be able to trademark that athlete’s name (or a derivation thereof)?  Let me know what you think.

Check out these articles:  Article 1; Article 2

— Justin Heisler

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