Reuters –  Michael Jordan will take a trademark dispute with a Chinese sports firm to China's supreme court, lawyers for the basketball star said on Friday, escalating one of several cases accusing local firms of illegally imitating global brands.

The former Chicago Bulls star sued Qiaodan Sports in 2012, saying the sportswear firm located in southern Fujian province had built its business around his Chinese name and famous jersey number "23" without his permission.

Earlier this year, a court ruled in favor of Qiaodan over the trademark dispute, and this ruling was recently upheld by the Beijing Municipal High People's Court, an official at the Chinese firm and legal representatives for Jordan told Reuters.

Jordan will now take the case to China's top court, a spokesman for Jordan's legal team said in an emailed statement.

"In light of the trademark dispute ruling, we intend to appeal to the Supreme People's Court for retrial," the statement said, adding that a separate case with Qiaodan Sports over naming rights was still ongoing.

Jordan is known as "Qiaodan" in basketball-mad China, which also has a homegrown superstar in former Houston Rockets player Yao Ming.

Asked about the latest ruling, Ren Juan, a member of Qiaodan Sports' legal department, said: "Qiaodan Sports will respect the judgment of the court." She declined to comment further.

Reuters could not reach the Beijing court for comment. In 2013, the state-run Xinhua news agency said Qiaodan Sports had sued Michael Jordan for damaging its reputation and demanded $8 million (£5 million) in compensation.

Jordan's case is one of several involving foreign firms facing trademark tangles in China.

Apple Inc paid $60 million in 2012 to settle a case over its iPad trademark, while state media reported last month that an affiliate of U.S. shoemaker New Balance had lost a trademark case against a local firm.

Jordan, who has a net worth of $1 billion according to Forbes, is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team and has a lucrative endorsement contract with Nike Inc, which makes Air Jordan shoes.

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