Last week, reports surfaced that the Los Angeles Clippers had allegedly taken steps to acquire Kawhi Leonard’s “Klaw” logo from Nike. The Clippers’ suspected motive was an attempt to gain Leonard’s interest during his upcoming free agency, but it looks like the Raptors star and New Balance endorsee could be putting an end to any negotiations—and take back what he says is his.
According to Portland Business Journal, Leonard has filed a federal lawsuit against Nike, claiming that the logo was actually his design. The nine-page suit was filed today in United States District Court and claims that the logo was an updated version of drawings he’d been working on since college. Leonard says he worked with Jordan Brand on the design, but Nike later filed a copyright claiming sole ownership.
Although the lawsuit has just been filed, this isn’t the first time Leonard has claimed to have had a hand in the design, which could lend some credence his argument. In 2014, Leonard said the logo was his idea, but added “I give the Jordan Brand team all the credit because I’m no artist at all. They refined it and made it look better than I thought it would ever be, and I’m extremely happy with the final version.”
Nike refused to comment on the pending litigation. A representative for Leonard did not immediately return Sole Collector’s request for comment. Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.
UPDATE (07/18): In the weeks since reports first surfaced of Leonard lawsuit against Nike, the former Toronto Raptor led the franchise to its first NBA championship, took home his second Finals MVP honor, and after much speculation, eventually signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. There have also been new legal developments over Leonard's "Klaw" logo.
TMZ has obtained documents outlining a countersuit against Leonard by Nike. In the filing, Nike admits that Leonard did indeed provide an early draft for the design. However, the company argues that numerous changes were made to the art before establishing a final "original" version. Notable differences include the graphic's placement of the "K" and "L letters, as well as the omission of the number "2" on the final product.
According to Nike, Leonard signed off of Nike's design in 2014, which is when the company filed its own copyright. Years later, in 2017, Nike became aware of Leonard's attempts to trademark the logo himself, claiming the former Raptors star had "fraudulently claimed to be the author and sole owner" of the design.
In the countersuit, Nike is said to reference the aforementioned Leonard interview in which he credits Jordan Brand's team for finalizing the graphic.
The Swoosh is now seeking monetary damages and is countersuing Leonard for breach of contract, copyright infringement, and fraud.
UPDATE (04/22): A ruling has emerged in the nearly year-long cases between Leonard and Nike. Oregon Live reports that a federal judge dismissed the current New Balance endorsee's case against the Swoosh.
According to the report, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled that Nike's design was significantly different enough from Leonard's original sketch.
"Kawhi put his heart and soul into that design so we are obviously disappointed the judge ruled the logo belongs to Nike and not Kawhi,'' Leonard's attorney, Peter R. Ginsberg, said following the judge's ruling. "We’re considering our options to protect Kawhi’s interests.''