Over the last several years, star forward Kawhi Leonard has risen to the ranks as one of the NBA’s best players. That has also seen them become one of the most popular talents in the league, which has drawn plenty of financial gains off the court. One of which has seen him earn the nickname the “Klaw” due to his tremendously big hands. That situation had become muddied, leading to a lawsuit against Nike over the logo. Following an extending case through the court system, Leonard has received the short end of the stick in the matter.
Kawhi Leonard’s lawsuit against Nike
During the 2019 NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors, some reports surfaced concerning a potential lawsuit from Leonard regarding a dispute over his logo.
There was apprehension regarding the similarities between the design as Nike’s version shared many of the same formations to what the star forward’s had. It was a lawsuit that Leonard had voiced had been filed long before the 2019 NBA Finals.
It didn’t take long for Nike to fire back with a response as a month following his decision to sign with the L.A. Clippers by stating that they own the logo and any use of it from the 27-year-old breach the contract with them.
That came several months after he had elected to ink a multi-year deal with New Balance after he had chosen to turn down a four-year, $22 million extension with Jordan Brand. That played further into the situation, which has become quite murky over the last several months that included the case being delayed due to concern over the coronavirus.
Nike wins lawsuit over Kawhi Leonard
Following nearly a year of the case going in the legal realm, the court ruled in favor of Nike.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman had ruled that the logo was separate and different from the one that star forward had created, according to Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian.
“It’s not merely a derivative work of the sketch itself,’’ the judge ruled from the bench after an hour of oral argument held by phone as well as multiple briefs filed in the case. “I do find it to be new and significantly different from the design.”
Leonard’s stance that Nike had unlawfully infringed on his copyright was not held in the judge’s decision. He had voiced that he had created the logo back in college after drawing his hands that included his initials and No.2 jersey number.
Nike did state that Leonard did send them a “rough draft” of the drawing, but had the counterargument that he had approved their own logo design back in June 2014 as part of his contract with the company. The star forward just wanted ownership over the logo that he created, but the court ruling didn’t agree with that notion.
Disappointing loss for Kawhi Leonard
Although Leonard will likely not discuss much publicly, it’s a tough loss as it prevents him from using that logo.
It’s a personal one that is keenly tailored to him by using very notable things about him. That said, Leonard will have plenty of other opportunities to garner financial gains off the court. His decision to join the Clippers has worked out favorably over the first several months as it has made the team a powerhouse in the league.
Meanwhile, his brand and reputation have continued to grow behind his stellar play on the court. It has also opened the door to more endorsement opportunities now that he’s back in Los Angeles. In the long run, it’s a disappointing loss for Leonard, but one that he can learn and grow from moving forward.