As attention focuses on the few who first saw potential in surprise basketball standout Jeremy Lin, a Chinese sportswear company has drawn local headlines for spotting his talent -- and taking out a trademark on his Chinese name.
A Chinese maker of soccer balls and basketballs named Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Co. applied for a trademark for Lin Shuhao in 2010, according to government records. That year, Mr. Lin graduated from Harvard University but was ignored during the NBA draft, leaving little indication that he would become a high-scoring starter for the New York Knicks as well as a global media darling.
The company also registered a variant of his English name, Jeremy S.H.L. It's unclear whether anyone in China has trademarked the English name 'Jeremy Lin' -- as of Wednesday evening the website of the trademark office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce was failing to work properly.
Risheng Sports's owner, Yu Minjie, couldn't be reached for comment. Articles in the local media have quoted Ms. Yu as saying that she was intrigued by Mr. Lin at an early stage but that his rise to prominence was 'totally unexpected.'
According to a filing on SAIC's website, Risheng Sports registered the Lin trademark for a variety of uses, including balls, outfits, shoes, toys, gym facilities and ornaments. Other filings show Risheng Sports claims trademarks for other famous basketball players, including the Chinese name of Yi Jianlian, a Chinese center who now plays for the Dallas Mavericks, and also has a trademark on the Chinese name for 'Jordan's Kingdom' -- an apparent reference to former star Michael Jordan -- for use on balls.
Word of the company's claim, which surfaced this week in the Chinese media, comes as others plan to tap China's immense interest in Mr. Lin, who was born in the U.S. to Taiwanese parents. Earlier this week, sports apparel maker Adidas AG said it plans to roll out Lin jerseys across its network of 6,700 stores in China. The jerseys offer his name in English, so they wouldn't be likely to run afoul of Risheng Sports's trademark.
Should Mr. Lin or others want to mount a challenge over use of the Chinese name, they could face significant hurdles. As in many jurisdictions, China's trademark laws tends to favor early filers, said Stan Abrams, a professor at Beijing's Central University of Finance and Economics. Claiming ownership of a name can also be tricky because they can be shared by many people. 'Theoretically anybody can register a name, and generally whoever gets there first is going to get that right,' he said.
But the law provides some wiggle room for use by others, he notes, involving how the name is used or presented, or whether it includes a famous person's likeness.
Though Chinese intellectual property law has a reputation for weakness, an ongoing dispute involving Apple Inc. over the iPad name in China shows Chinese trademark law can become a major issue. Mr. Abrams said the problem tends to be with enforcement rather than the law itself.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images2011年5月，祖籍浙江平湖的林书豪在平湖一所中学打了一场篮球友谊赛。
根据政府部门的记录，中国足球和篮球制造企业无锡日升体育用品有限公司(Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Co.)在2010年申请注册了林书豪的商标。那一年，林书豪从哈佛大学毕业，但在NBA选秀中丝毫没有引起人们注意，几乎没有迹象表明他会成为纽约尼克斯队(New York Knicks)的得分手以及全球媒体的宠儿。
该公司还注册了林书豪英文名字的变体Jeremy S.H.L.的商标。目前还不清楚是否有人注册了林书豪的英文名“Jeremy Lin”的商标──截至周三晚间，中国国家工商行政管理总局商标局的网站还不能正常显示查询结果。