Shanghai - Sportswear giant Nike is suing two Chinese companies for allegedly copying its logo featuring a silhouette of basketball legend Michael Jordan slam-dunking, state media reported on Thursday.
Nike lawyer Kong Qin told a Shanghai court that a retailer sold shorts bearing the logo for nearly a year, the China Daily reported, adding the suit also named a clothing wholesaler that supplied the goods.
Nike is demanding that the two companies publish a notice in a Shanghai newspaper apologising for any damage caused to the brand and pay 300 000 yuan ($44 000) in compensation, the report said.
Tang Yun, the lawyer for the defendants, argued their logo was different.
"We didn't know the Nike logo is similar to that on our products," Tang was quoted as saying.
As evidence, Nike presented in court a pair of the pants that a company employee bought from the retailer, the newspaper said.
The logo featured a figure slightly different from the Jordan silhouette with the word "sports" written underneath, the report said.
"It is true our logo bears some resemblance to Nike's, but ours also includes the word 'sports' in block letters. Therefore one could not be mistaken for the other," Tang said.
Tang said the retailer, Shanghai Century Lianhua Chengshan Supermarket had bought 39 pairs of the pants from the other defendant, Shanghai Kangchen Garment, the report said.
The paper reported that Shanghai Kangchen said it did not make the pants but bought 50 pairs from a market for about 13.20 yuan each - a bit less than $2.
Despite government promises to crack down on counterfeiters, fake goods are openly sold throughout China and trademark owners are increasingly resorting to litigation to deal with piracy.
The number of intellectual property rights cases is rising in Shanghai's courts, with 1 634 resolved last year, 41% more than the previous year, the newspaper reported.