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Kawhi Leonard files lawsuit against Nike to get control of his ‘Klaw’ logo

2019 NBA Finals - Game Two

TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 02: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors looks on against the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game Two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 02, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Part of the discussion of where Kawhi Leonard would play next year was about his brand and marketing opportunities. Leonard may not show much concern for that kind of marketing, but that why there has been buzz for more than a year now that some in his camp were pushing hard for a return to Los Angeles. It was about the potential of building the brand.

If you’ve watched the postgame press conferences for Leonard these Finals, you have noticed he’s wearing gear with his “Klaw” logo on it.

Leonard cares enough about that logo (and his brand) to sue Nike to get control of it, as first reported by Matthew Kish of the Portland Business Journal (hat tip to Marc Stein of the New York Times).

From the story about the lawsuit, filed in Southern California.

In the nine-page lawsuit, Leonard claims the logo is an extension of drawings he started making early in his college career and he gave Nike permission to use the logo “on certain merchandise” when he had an endorsement deal with Nike. Leonard claims Nike filed an application for copyright registration for the logo without his consent.

Leonard left Nike for New Balance when his endorsement contract was up, undoubtedly he and his new shoe company would like to use that logo on apparel and shoes.

The logo matters so much to Leonard that the Clippers — trying to recruit Leonard as a free agent — looked into buying it off Nike, something Stein already reported. Nike said no to the idea, which would have been a major salary cap violation anyway.

This lawsuit likely is trying to force a settlement where Nike would sell the logo to Leonard. As an attorney friend once told me, everything can be settled for the right price. The question for Nike and Leonard is can they get close to a price.

What does this mean for Leonard and where he might play next season? Nothing. He’d want control over the logo no matter what decision he makes. It certainly matters less than if he did buy property in Toronto.