Nike is countersuing Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard for copyright infringement in an ongoing legal battle over the rights to a custom hand logo - referenced in the suit as the "Claw Design" - according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
Leonard launched a federal lawsuit against the sports apparel company in June, claiming that he still owned the logo - which he called the "Leonard Logo" - and that Nike had copyrighted it without his consent. Nike, however, argues the logo that was copyrighted was not the original design from Leonard, but instead one that the company designed itself as an improved revision.
"What is false is that the design he provided was the Claw Design," Nike's countersuit states, courtesy of Danner. "Not once in his complaint does Leonard display or attach either the design that he provided or the Claw Design.
"Instead, he conflates the two, making it appear as though those discrete works are one and the same. They are not."
Nike's suit also includes two photos comparing Leonard's initial submission with the final product.
Leonard, 28, separated from Jordan Brand, a subsidiary of Nike, in 2018 and is now endorsed by New Balance. His lawsuit against Nike said he has plans to use the logo on apparel and other merchandise, although the Oregon-based company has blocked him from doing so.
In 2014, Leonard told George Kiel of NiceKicks.com that the released design was conceived by Jordan Brand after he first sent them a rough draft.
"I give the Jordan Brand team all the credit because I’m no artist at all," said Leonard, then with the San Antonio Spurs. "They refined it and made it look better than I thought it would ever be, and I’m extremely happy with the final version."
Despite the legal conflict, Leonard repeatedly arrived at games with the Toronto Raptors last season wearing clothing adorned with the disputed logo.
Leonard signed a three-year, $103-million contract with the Clippers this summer. The reigning Finals MVP returned to his home state of California after one season with the Raptors, in which he led them to their first NBA title.