Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard is currently engaged in a battle with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, but now he's also in a court battle with Nike.
On Monday, the Portland Business Journal first reported that Leonard has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Nike, alleging the Beaverton-based sportswear giant copyrighted a logo he designed without his consent.
In the lawsuit, Leonard claims he created his signature "Klaw" logo—a tracing of his famously large hands forming the initials "K.L."—during his college years at San Diego State.
After going pro and entering into an endorsement deal with Nike, Leonard says he allowed the company to use the image on various merchandise, but never transferred the rights to the logo to Nike.
In September 2018, Leonard left Nike and signed a deal with New Balance. Sometime before that, unbeknownst to Leonard, Nike filed a copyright claim on the Klaw logo, "falsely" claiming to have authored the image themselves, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit says Leonard successfully trademarked the logo in 2017.
As Leonard continued to use the logo in conjunction with sports camps, charity events and other apparel, in March 2019, Nike allegedly sent a cease-and-desist notice to Leonard's representatives, demanding he stop using the logo on all non-Nike merchandise.
Leonard is seeking to be named the sole author of the logo, and to use the logo as he pleases without remonstrances from Nike.
Representatives from Nike did not respond to requests for comment.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the Los Angeles Clippers had looked into purchasing the rights to the logo from Nike as part of their campaign to sign Leonard in free agency this summer, theoretically so they could then grant him permission to use the logo freely again.