In the latest step in the battle between Kawhi Leonard and Nike, the shoe giant has filed a coutersuit against the former Toronto Raptor and current Los Angeles Clippers star over his continued use of the “Klaw” logo.
Known for his large hands, Leonard sued Nike in June, claiming that he had been working on the design — which features the letter “KL” and Leonard’s No. 2 inside of an outstretched hand — since he was in college.
Nike, however, alleges the design was developed while Leonard was a member of its Jordan Brand. And on Wednesday it filed a countersuit against the two-time Finals MVP in the in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, where Leonard filed his suit.
“In this action, Kawhi Leonard seeks to rewrite history by asserting that he created the ‘Claw Design’ logo, but it was not Leonard who created that logo,” said Nike in its filing. “The ‘Claw Design’ was created by a talented team of Nike designers, as Leonard, himself has previously admitted.”
In 2018, Leonard left Nike. and in 2019 he signed a new deal with New Balance. New Balance has since featured Leonard in multiple campaigns, including “Fun Guy” and, perhaps, most famously during the NBA Finals with “King of the North.”
Since leaving Nike, Leonard has continued to use the logo on non-Nike apparel, and in June asked the courts to declare him the sole proprietor of the “Klaw” logo.
In its countersuit Nike said, “Leonard alleges he provided a design to Nike. That is true. What is false is that the design he provided was the Claw Design. Not once in his complaint does Leonard display or attach either the design that he provided or the Claw Design. Instead, he conflates the two, making it appear as though those discrete works are one and the same. They are not.”
Nike alleges that Leonard is trying to take credit for the work of its designers.
“Despite the contract’s intellectual property ownership provision to which Leonard agreed, and despite his prior public acknowledgement that Nike authored the Claw Design, Leonard has now decided that he, and not Nike, is the rightful owner of the registered Claw Design, and has gone even further to accuse Nike of committing fraud by registering its Claw Design with the copyright office” in 2017, the suit says.
“Moreover, in clear contravention of Leonard’s contractual obligations and Nike’s exclusive ownership rights in and to the Claw Design, Leonard has continued to use and reproduce the Claw Design, without Nike’s authorization, on his non-Nike apparel worn publicly, and has manifested his imminent intent to commercially exploit the Claw Design on non-Nike merchandise.”
With its filling, Nike is looking to prevent the NBA star from using the design and is asking the court to rule in its favour and dismiss Leonard’s lawsuit.