Nike filed a countersuit against Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard this week, escalating an ongoing legal battle with its former endorser over ownership of a logo once used in his marketing campaigns.
The sports apparel giant’s countersuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, acknowledged that Leonard submitted a logo design during his partnership with subsidiary Jordan Brand. However, Nike rejected the claim that Leonard’s design was the same logo later used in his product offerings.
"In this action, Kawhi Leonard seeks to re-write history by asserting that he created the 'Claw Design' logo, but it was not Leonard who created that logo," the countersuit said, according to ESPN. "The 'Claw Design' was created by a talented team of NIKE designers, as Leonard, himself, has previously admitted.”
Nike alleges that Leonard violated the terms of his contract with the company by using the logo on non-Nike apparel without the company’s permission. The company is suing Leonard for damages and legal fees and has asked the court to bar the NBA star from using the “Klaw” logo in the future.
Leonard originally filed suit against Nike in June alleging that he designed the logo in 2011 by tracing his own hand and drawing his initials inside the imprint. His lawsuit claims that Nike filed a copyright claim on the design without his permission.
Leonard is seeking a court order that would establish him as the logo’s original designer and owner. He currently has an endorsement deal with New Balance.
Nike has declined to comment on the legal proceedings.