Yao wins image infringement case
( 2003-10-17 01:02) (China Daily)
Basketball star Yao Ming reached a settlement on Thursday night with global drinks company Coca-Cola's Chinese unit over a lawsuit concerning Yao's image rights.
Besides an apology for its unauthorized use of Yao's image for commercial purposes, the Coke subsidiary announced it had halted the production and marketing of its commemorative bottles bearing the image.
Yao in return agreed to withdraw the suit, in which he had accused Coke of image rights infringement and sought a public apology from the beverage giant plus a symbolic compensation of one yuan, or about 12 US cents.
The settlement came four days ahead of October 20, when the suit's court trial is scheduled to take place, while 23-year-old Yao, who plays for the Houston Rockets, is busy preparing for his second NBA season.
"Now that things are solved, we've got to look ahead...this is a satisfactory settlement where my personal rights are well guaranteed, and I believe things of this kind won't happen,'' said Yao in a statement shown on his official website.
Yao protested in May as his image was being prominently displayed, together with two other players in the Chinese national basketball team, on the bottles produced by Coca Cola Co (China) and sold in Shanghai. Yao later filed a suit on May 23 against the firm.
The Coke side had insisted what it used was a group image of the team and it had acquired authorization from the team's marketing agent for the practice.
The dispute has aroused people's concerns over legal loopholes in China's sports industry.
But at least the present solution does not look unacceptable for Coke.
"We are satisfied to see that both sides have reached a final reconciliation over the dispute, and we will continue our efforts to support Chinese basketball,'' said Jiang Hao, external affairs officer of Coca Cola Co (China).
The future promotional arrangements on Coca Cola products around the Chinese national basketball team have yet to be decided, Jiang said.
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