The Toronto Raptors currently lead the two-time defending NBA Champions Golden State Warrior's 2-1 in the NBA Championship series. It's been great to watch a team compete with the Warriors superteam, but the most exciting news to me was off the court. Kwahi Leonard is taking on Nike in a lawsuit over his Klaw logo. The lawsuit filed is to regain control of his logo and claims Nike committed fraud in registering the logo with the Copyright Office.
I think this is great and someone needed to do this a long time ago! Kwahi appears to have a legitimate claim to the logo as the legal documents stated that this logo is an extension of logo ideas he's been designing since college with family and a creative designer as potential witnesses. Also, it says that Kwahi allowed Nike to use his logo when he signed an endorsement deal with them early in his career.
First, I want to clarify that a person or entity doesn't have to copyright a logo to have ownership according to the Copyright Office, but you do need to copyright your logo if you wish to file a lawsuit. Secondly, I have no idea if his endorsement deal had any type of clause declaring Kwahi the owner of the logo or if there was any provision that would allow Nike to take control of the logo based on the endorsement contract.
So, why do I think this is great? Many small business and startups are sued every year by major corporations for copyright infringement when the claims are darn right laughable. Take, for instance, Nike's competitor Under Armour. They've had three notable cases recently that had been in the press, but two stand out to me. One against a faith-based clothing company called Armor & Glory in 2015 in which Under Armours trademark attorney pledged no end to its litigation and guaranteed an expensive and time-consuming legal battle to the owners, per their email, that they handed over to the Washington Post. Another is a company called Armory Cascade in Bend, OR, which the logo is of an elk with words on top and bottom, nothing like Under Armour's logo.
Their options? Start over or be prepared to go bankrupt, fighting them in court. While I'm not the kind of person who believes in participation trophies, this is downright bullying. So, this is why I say I think it's excellent that Kwahi Leonard is taking Nike to court over his logo. I'm well aware that it's different than a small business and Kwahi is already wealthy, but I hope it sets a precedent that major corporations shouldn't be allowed to bully and sue over frivolous claims. There is nothing wrong with companies wanting to protect their business, but the claims should be legitimate. What they do is petty and hurts small businesses, which is the lifeblood that our nation was built upon, and I think it's worth following the story as it unfolds.
Full Disclosure: I'm a big fan of Nike products have been a shareholder in the past.