Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard filed a federal lawsuit against Nike on Monday, claiming the footwear giant copyrighted the “Klaw” logo that he designed without his consent and is now blocking him from using the logo he believes he owns. Leonard, a Nike endorser until 2018, is now endorsed by New Balance.
In the lawsuit filed in Southern California, Leonard said Nike filed a copyright application for a logo that he designed and did so “unbeknownst to Leonard and without his consent” while “falsely” claimed it designed the logo.
Leonard claims that he developed the logo himself by tracing his very large hands. The ring and pinky fingers of the logo are shaped into a “K,” the middle finger and thumb form an “L” and the index finger is designed to resemble an elongated “2” — all nods to his initials and jersey number.
The suit said that Leonard “refined” the logo in December 2011 or January 2012, and eventually consented that Nike could use it on certain products. Leonard joined the NBA in 2011 with the San Antonio Spurs after playing for San Diego State.
Leonard wants the court to decide that he is the author of the logo and that Nike “committed fraud” when registering the logo for copyright.
Nike told Leonard earlier this year to stop using the logo, according to the lawsuit. Leonard is preparing to use the logo “on clothing lines, footwear and on other products and, among other things, in connection with sports camps and charity functions.”
New Balance’s first shoes from Leonard, the signature OMN1S and a matching 997 Sport, both dropped online on May 7 and sold out immediately.
The New York Times reported last week that the Los Angeles Clippers are looking into purchasing the logo that’s still owned by Nike in an attempt to lure the Raptors star in free agency.
A Nike spokesman declined to comment Monday, saying the company does not discuss pending litigation. Leonard’s deal with Nike was with the Jordan brand.
Leonard is in the midst of playing in his third NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The series resumes Wednesday at Golden State.
Photos courtesy Jordan Brand