Thanks to their stunning NBA Finals run, the Toronto Raptors have become the darlings of the sports world. Though they boast a world-class superstar in Kawhi Leonard, they were emphatically the underdogs going into this championship series. Now they’re just one win away from the first title in franchise history.
There was middling concern that viewership might take a hit in the first Finals sans LeBron James in nearly a decade, but with literally half of Canada tuning in combined with the high drama of each successive game, it’s safe to say that basketball fans everywhere are glued to their sets.
Amid all this visibility, however, there is one seemingly minor aspect that has been magnified, at least in the eyes of some. In an ongoing suit originally filed in 2015, Monster Energy alleges that the Raptors logo, which features three claws on a basketball, is too similar to their own, thus infringing on their copyright.
Via The Canadian Press:
“[Monster] has sold billions of dollars worth of goods under [its] mark,” say the company’s documents filed in June 2015. Since 2002, the company has used the three gashes on everything from rock concerts to clothes, as well as on the energy drink, it says.
“[Monster] will be damaged by registration of the [Raptors] in that the mark will dilute the distinctive qualities of [Monster’s] mark … and will lessen the ability of [Monster’s] mark to distinguish its goods.”
The organization, of course, balks at that accusation, pointing out that they’ve used variation of the claw-mark design since 1994, though their current logo has been in use since 2014. Now, it’ll be up to a judge to decide the outcome and whether the Raptors will ultimately have to give up their logo.
Kawhi Leonard is also in a legal battle to obtain rights to his “Klaw” logo, which Nike currently owns. If it seems odd that a Finals team and its best player are both in litigation over their branding, then you’re not alone. It’s likely that we’ll have to wait at least until the offseason before either of these come to resolution, and possibly a lot longer than that.