• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Judge sides with Nike over Kawhi Leonard in legal battle over 'Klaw' logo

Jason Owens
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A federal judge sided with Nike on Wednesday in its ongoing legal battle with Kawhi Leonard over the “Klaw” logo, blocking the NBA star’s claim to copyright.

Leonard sued Nike last June, claiming the company improperly copyrighted the logo that was used on his line of Jordan Brand sneakers. He claimed that the image belonged to him because he designed it.

Leonard filed the suit in the middle of the NBA Finals as his Toronto Raptors were playing and beating the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship. The lawsuit arrived after Leonard had left Nike’s Jordan Brand in 2018 to become the face of New Balance’s basketball line.

Nike countersued Leonard

Nike countersued in July for copyright infringement, fraud and breach of contract, arguing that Leonard “fraudulently claimed to be the author and sole owner of the Claw design” when he filed for copyright protection in 2017.

Kawhi Leonard lost a legal battle with Nike on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Kawhi Leonard lost a legal battle with Nike on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Nike filed its copyright claim in 2014 after collaborating with Leonard on the logo. Nike reportedly acknowledged that the design was based on a sketch that Leonard drew in college, but that the finished product was a creation of its designers.

The disputed logo

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Leonard’s sketch and the final design.

Judge: ‘New and significantly different’

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled on Wednesday that the logo Nike created with Leonard’s help was an “independent piece of intellectual property,” The Oregonian reports.

“It’s not merely a derivative work of the sketch itself,’’ Mosman said in his ruling. “I do find it to be new and significantly different from the design.”

The judge’s ruling sounds similar to a statement Leonard made about the logo in 2014 when he was still on Nike’s payroll.

“I came up with the idea of incorporating my initials in this logo,” Leonard told Nice Kicks after the logo first appeared on a pair of his Air Jordan 6 sneakers. “I drew up the rough draft, sent it over and they made it perfect. ...

“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.”

TMZ reported last year that Nike used that quote in its countersuit.

Kawhi Leonard's New Balance sneakers will remain Klaw-less. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard's New Balance sneakers will remain Klaw-less. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Leonard’s attorney Peter Ginsberg said that his team was looking into other options after Mosman ruled in Nike’s favor.

“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,” Ginsberg said, per The Oregonian. “We’re considering our options to protect Kawhi’s interests.”

Unless Leonard’s attorneys figure out a creative end-around, his New Balance sneakers will remain Klaw-less.

More from Yahoo Sports: