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Nike files countersuit against Kawhi Leonard over 'Klaw' logo

Kawhi Leonard sported the "Klaw" logo on apparel during the NBA Finals. (Reuters)

A month after Kawhi Leonard sued Nike for allegedly copyrighting the “Klaw” logo without his consent, the apparel company has countersued the reigning NBA Finals MVP for allegedly using a design it created and owns, according to multiple reports.

In a lawsuit filed in Southern California in early June, Leonard accused Nike of “falsely” laying claim to his logo design when registering the copyright. In its countersuit filed this month, however, Nike reportedly says that, while Leonard did share a design sketch he made in college, the finished product featured distinct differences, and that any designs used during their partnership are owned by the company.

The difference between Leonard’s amateur sketch and Nike’s professional logo are comical. Photos were included in the lawsuit and shared by TMZ for your pleasure:

Leonard’s history with Nike

Leonard’s seven-year partnership with Nike ended last year, and he has since signed an endorsement deal with New Balance. Nike filed its copyright claim for the logo in 2014, before the logo was unveiled. According to court documents obtained by multiple media outlets on Thursday, Nike said Leonard “fraudulently claimed to be the author and sole owner of the Claw design” in his own 2017 copyright filing.

Leonard continued to use the logo on non-Nike products after their contract ended, and the company reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to prevent further use in late 2018. Leonard publicly wore apparel bearing the logo during the Finals in June.

‘I give the Jordan Brand team all the credit’

“I came up with the idea of incorporating my initials in this logo,” Leonard told Nice Kicks soon after the logo first appeared in 2014 on a pair of his exclusive 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.”

Nike reportedly included that quote in its countersuit, which charges Leonard with copyright infringement, fraud and breach of contract. According to the court documents, the company is seeking an injunction against Leonard’s lawsuit, a court order for him to cease future use of the logo and unspecified monetary damages.

Clippers reportedly pursued purchasing ‘Klaw’ logo

Prior to the countersuit, The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported that the Los Angeles Clippers pursued purchasing the copyright to the logo as part of its free-agent pursuit of Leonard. Nike reportedly would not take to the idea, which may have violated league rules regardless. Leonard, of course, signed with the Clippers anyway, after leading the Toronto Raptors to the NBA championship last month.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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