Nike files countersuit against Kawhi Leonard over 'Klaw' logo

A month after Kawhi Leonard sued Nike for allegedly copyrighting the “Klaw” logo without his consent, the apparel company has countersued the reigning NBA Finals MVP for allegedly using a design it created and owns, according to multiple reports.

In a lawsuit filed in Southern California in early June, Leonard accused Nike of “falsely” laying claim to his logo design when registering the copyright. In its countersuit filed this month, however, Nike reportedly says that, while Leonard did share a design sketch he made in college, the finished product featured distinct differences, and that any designs used during their partnership are owned by the company.

The difference between Leonard’s amateur sketch and Nike’s professional logo are comical. Photos were included in the lawsuit and shared by TMZ for your pleasure:

Leonard’s history with Nike

Leonard’s seven-year partnership with Nike ended last year, and he has since signed an endorsement deal with New Balance. Nike filed its copyright claim for the logo in 2014, before the logo was unveiled. According to court documents obtained by multiple media outlets on Thursday, Nike said Leonard “fraudulently claimed to be the author and sole owner of the Claw design” in his own 2017 copyright filing.

Leonard continued to use the logo on non-Nike products after their contract ended, and the company reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to prevent further use in late 2018. Leonard publicly wore apparel bearing the logo during the Finals in June.

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Kawhi Leonard through his career
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Kawhi Leonard through his career
San Diego State Aztecs' Kawhi Leonard (L) and Connecticut Huskies' Kemba Walker scramble for a loose ball during the second half of their NCAA West Regional college basketball game in Anaheim, California March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Kawhi Leonard stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (L) goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah (C) and Taj Gibson during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Chicago, February 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan (C), Kawhi Leonard (L) and Manu Ginobili celebrate after a basket against the Miami Heat in the first half during Game 3 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in San Antonio, Texas June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dunks the ball during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) between plays against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) looks to pass around San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard during the first quarter in Game 2 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio, Texas, June 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates in the locker room with the Finals MVP trophy after defeating the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Spurs defeated the Heat 104-87 to win the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) gets his NBA championship ring from San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Western Conference forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (2) looks on during practice for the NBA All Star game at Ricoh Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-02-13T174655Z_1762526181_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-ALL-STAR-PRACTICE.JPG
Jan 12, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball over Los Angeles Lakers small forward Luol Deng (9) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after an injury during the third quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (in suit) watches from the bench against the Golden State Warriors during the first half in game three of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles the ball during the second half of an NBA game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Scotiabank Arena on October 30, 2018 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 Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON- JANUARY 31 - Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) defends against Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) as the Toronto Raptors fall to the Milwaukee Bucks at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. January 31, 2019. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 13: General Manager of the Toronto Raptors Bobby Webster presents an All-Star ball to Kyle Lowry #7 and Kawhi Leonard #2 prior to an NBA game against the Washington Wizards at Scotiabank Arena on February 13, 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 Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 17: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors and Team LeBron drives to the basket against Team Giannis in the first quarter during the NBA All-Star game as part of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend at Spectrum Center on February 17, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 16: Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) are all smiles as time is running out on the game. Toronto Raptors vs Orlando Magic in 2nd half action of Round 1, Game 2 of NBA playoff play at Scotiabank Arena. Raptors tie up the series, 1-1, with a win of 111-82. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 30: All business coming out of a time out. From left, Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43), Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green (14), Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol (33), Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7). Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors in 2ndhalf action of Game 1 of NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. Raptors win 118-109. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 17: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors and Team LeBron drives to the basket against Team Giannis in the first quarter during the NBA All-Star game as part of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend at Spectrum Center on February 17, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13: Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors battles for a rebound with Klay Thompson during Toronto's 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13, 2019, at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Photo by Daniel Gluskoter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after his team defeated the Golden State Warriors to win Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13: Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors appears with the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP trophy following the conclusion of Toronto's 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13, 2019 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. (Photo by Daniel Gluskoter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 17: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors holds the MVP trophy during the Toronto Raptors Victory Parade on June 17, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. The Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 4-2 to win the 2019 NBA Finals. 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 Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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‘I give the Jordan Brand team all the credit’

“I came up with the idea of incorporating my initials in this logo,” Leonard told Nice Kicks soon after the logo first appeared in 2014 on a pair of his exclusive Air Jordan 6 sneakers. “I drew up the rough draft, sent it over and they made it perfect. ...

“I give the Jordan Brand team all the credit because I’m no artist at all. They refined it and made it look better than I thought it would ever be, and I’m extremely happy with the final version.”

Nike reportedly included that quote in its countersuit, which charges Leonard with copyright infringement, fraud and breach of contract. According to the court documents, the company is seeking an injunction against Leonard’s lawsuit, a court order for him to cease future use of the logo and unspecified monetary damages.

Clippers reportedly pursued purchasing ‘Klaw’ logo

Prior to the countersuit, The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported that the Los Angeles Clippers pursued purchasing the copyright to the logo as part of its free-agent pursuit of Leonard. Nike reportedly would not take to the idea, which may have violated league rules regardless. Leonard, of course, signed with the Clippers anyway, after leading the Toronto Raptors to the NBA championship last month.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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