Kawhi Leonard is currently in a battle with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, but it appears he’s also about to be embroiled in a copyright fight as well. The Toronto Raptors superstar had a year of big changes, starting with his offseason trade from San Antonio to Toronto.
That trade got him out of the West and let him meet Golden State in the Finals, but in November another big change was made — Leonard signed a multi-year shoe deal with New Balance after his contract with Nike-owned Jordan Brand ran out. The deal allowed Leonard to make a Times New Roman-inspired imprint on the shoe industry with a new company, and it seems he has some beef with Nike following his departure.
As Portland Business Journal reporter Matthew Kish revealed on Monday, Leonard and his legal team are suing Nike over the copyright of a logo Leonard used with Nike.
Leonard is reportedly suing over the ‘Klaw,’ a logo he claims to have designed that Nike used on his shoes and other apparel. According to Kish, Leonard and his team are claiming to have designed the logo without Nike’s help and, therefore, say they own its rights and Nike copyrighted it without their approval.
The logo is even apparently a somewhat bizarre piece of leverage in Leonard’s upcoming free agency, as The New York Times‘ Marc Stein reported last week that the team had even inquired about buying the rights to the Klaw so he could get it back if he signed with the team.
The Los Angeles Clippers are said to have quietly looked into the feasibility of purchasing the portion of the rights to Leonard’s “Klaw” logo that is still owned by Nike. The Clippers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but such an acquisition would theoretically enable them to bestow full control of the logo upon Leonard as part of their anticipated free-agency pitch meeting with the Toronto superstar.
That’s an absurd bit of corporate free agency drama, but it would at least in theory make Leonard very happy. Stein reported that, even if it were not a violation of at least one rule of the league’s CBA, Nike doesn’t have any interest in selling the rights because something like that could happen. Unless, of course, Leonard’s legal actions get it back under his control without the help of the Clippers.