On May 18, 2020, the Oregon District Court (the Court) released its decision in Leonard v Nike, Inc (Case No. 3:19-cv-01586-MO), holding that Nike, Inc (Nike) owns the “Klaw” Logo (Logo) and the right to register copyright in the Logo.

In 2011, the parties entered into an endorsement contract, in which NBA star Kawhi Leonard (Leonard) agreed to wear and endorse Nike merchandise.  During the contract, the parties collaborated to create the Logo (see image at right) and the Logo was used on merchandise sold by Nike and worn and endorsed by Leonard. 

After the contract was terminated, Leonard sued Nike seeking a declaration that he was the sole author and copyright owner of the Logo, as previously reported by the E-TIPS® Newsletter here.  Nike counterclaimed for copyright infringement, fraud in obtaining copyright and breach of contract, as previously reported by the E-TIPS® Newsletter here.

In its decision, the Court examined the contractual language of a provision in the contract that stated that Nike would own the copyright in any logos created by Nike or Leonard in connection with the contract.  The Court concluded that the Logo was “a new, distinct piece of intellectual property” and that the Logo was created “in connection with” the contract.  Therefore, the Court held that Nike owns the Logo and the right to register copyright in it.  The Court dismissed Leonard’s claims with prejudice.

Summary By: Michelle Noonan


20 06 03

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