Sports | June 4, 2019 9:21 am

Kawhi Leonard Files Lawsuit Against Nike Over Logo

Leonard says Nike filed a copyright for a logo he designed

Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors. (Gregory Shamus/Images)
Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors. (Gregory Shamus/Images)
Getty Images

In the middle of his battle against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, Kawhi Leonard is taking on another tough opponent in a high-stakes fight.

On Monday, the Toronto Raptors forward filed a federal lawsuit against Nike in United States District Court alleging the sportswear company filed a copyright for a logo he designed after he allowed it to be used on select pieces of apparel while he was a Nike endorser.

Leonard, 27, is now with New Balance.

“In 2011, just after being drafted to the National Basketball Association, Kawhi Leonard authored a unique logo that included elements that were meaningful and unique to him,” the lawsuit reads. “Leonard traced his notably large hand, and, inside the hand, drew stylized versions of his initials ‘KL’ and the number that he had worn for much of his career, ‘2.’ The drawing Leonard authored was an extension and continuation of drawings he had been creating since early in his college career.

“Several years later, as part of an endorsement deal with Nike, Leonard allowed Nike to use on certain merchandise the logo he created while Leonard continued to use the logo on non-Nike goods. Unbeknownst to Leonard and without his consent, Nike filed an application for copyright registration of his logo and falsely represented in the application that Nike had authored the logo.”

According to the suit, Leonard wants to use the “Klaw” logo on “clothing lines, footwear and on other products” as well as “in connection with sports camps and charity functions.”

Nike, the suit says, has “explicitly has objected to such uses.”

The filing is seeking that Leonard be granted control over the use of the logo going forward.

Interestingly, The New York Times reported the Los Angeles Clippers “have quietly looked into the feasibility of purchasing the portion of the rights to Leonard’s ‘Klaw’ logo that is still owned by Nike.”

If the Raptors want to retain him as a free agent this summer, they should perhaps do the same.

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