LA Clippers: Kawhi Leonard Loses Battle With Nike Over Klaw Logo

LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard has lost his legal battle with Nike over ownership of the superstar’s ‘Klaw’ logo.

Nearly a year after engaging in a legal back-and-forth against his former sponsor, Nike, Kawhi Leonard has unfortunately lost the court case for rights to his iconic ‘Klaw’ logo, per TMZ.

Leonard, of course, spent seven years as a Nike/Jordan Brand athlete, from 2011-2018, during which time the ‘Klaw’ logo originated. The logo appeared on various player-exclusive shoes and other Nike merchandise that Kawhi wore in his time with the Spurs. However, as malcontent began to develop with the superstar’s situation in San Antonio, he also took that opportunity to seek a more lucrative relationship on the endorsement side of things. Allowing his contract with Jordan Brand to lapse after the two failed to come to an agreement on an extension. Kawhi turning down a four-year, $22 million offer.

These days, the LA Clippers’ star forward is sitting pretty with New Balance. Central to the brand’s return to basketball and picking up a Larry O’Brien trophy while he was at it. Kawhi is even (tentatively) slated to have his first signature sneaker released in fall 2020; something he was never given in his time with Jordan, despite being one of the brand’s most accomplished athletes at the time.

Kawhi apparently can’t have it all, though. Receiving a cease and desist (over use of the ‘Klaw’ logo) from Nike in 2018, after the expiration of his contract. In retaliation, Leonard sued the sportswear brand himself, alleging that he drew the original logo himself when he was in college and should have every right to use it. Nike then turned back around and counter-sued Kawhi for copyright infringement. So here we are today, some nine months later.

Pictured above are the logos in question. I’d give some variation of, ‘You be the judge’ here, but that job’s sort of been taken care of, and it was decided that the two logos were just distinctive enough for the actual judge to rule in favor of Nike. Thus prohibiting The Klaw (we’re still going to call him that) from profiting off of Nike’s version. According to The Oregonian,

"U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled that the logo Nike designers helped create with Leonard marked an “independent piece of intellectual property’’ that was distinct from the original sketch Leonard initially conceived and shared with Nike."

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It is a shame that Kawhi won’t be able to continue walking around with clothing that looks like a giant toddler was finger-painting and stamped his clothing with their hand, but the silver lining is that now we can look forward to an even better logo to mark the beginning of the LA Clippers Kawhi era!