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Tag Archives: Copyright

Kawhi Leonard v. Nike, Inc.: Copy, derivative work or distinct work?

On July 17, 2019, Nike, Inc. (Nike) filed its Answer and Counter Claims in response to the complaint previously filed by Kawhi Leonard, now of the Los Angeles Clippers. Read about the complaint in our previous post, Kawhi Leonard v. Nike Inc.: How copyrights can trump trademarks?

In its Answer, Nike asks for a declaration that Nike is the sole owner of copyrights in the modified “KL2” logo, a finding that Kawhi’s use of the modified “KL2” logo infringes the copyrights owned by Nike, cancellation of Kawhi’s copyright registration to the modified “KL2” logo due to fraud in his copyright application, and a finding that Kawhi breached the “Men’s Pro Basketball Contract” he entered into with Nike on October 26, 2011.…

Kawhi Leonard v. Nike Inc.: How copyrights can trump trademarks?

On Monday, May 3, 2019, in the midst of the NBA finals, Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors filed a lawsuit against Nike, Inc. (Nike) in the US District Court Southern District of California. The complaint asks the Court for a declaration that Kawhi is the sole author of the “KL2” logo, that his use of that logo does not infringe the rights of Nike, and that Nike committed fraud in its copyright application. The “KL2” logo is sometimes referred to as the “Klaw” logo which is a nickname for Kawhi. Kawhi owns US trademark registration number 5608427 for the “KL2” logo for use with apparel. However, Nike owns US copyright registration number VA0002097900 for the “KL2” logo.

See our update in part two, Kawhi Leonard v. Nike, Inc.: Copy, derivative work or distinct work?.

A “Boost” for copyright protection in the fashion industry: Kanye’s Yeezy sneakers to receive copyright registrations

On May 8, 2019, the Review Board of the U. S. Copyright Office issued a decision stating that Yeezy 350 Boost Version 1 and Yeezy 350 Boost Version 2 sneakers each include copyrightable subject matter. The Adidas Yeezy sneakers are a collaboration between Adidas AG and Kanye West which has been wildly popular and as a result has been frequently knocked off by imitators. So it is not surprising that Adidas AG pursued copyright protection for these sneakers. This decision by the U.S. Copyright Office clarifies that footwear designs can be perceived as two- or three-dimensional works of art separate from the footwear themselves. Thus, footwear designers clearly have the option of copyright protection for footwear designs having sufficient originality.

In 2017, Adidas AG filed applications for copyright registration of the Yeezy Boost 350 Version 1 and the Yeezy Boost 350 Version 2 which are shown above in photos from the decision. The U.S. Copyright Office initially rejected these applications because the sneakers were said to be “useful articles that do not contain any copyrightable authorship needed to sustain a claim to copyright.” Note that copyright law does not protect useful articles, such as clothing and footwear. See 17 U.S.C. § 101.

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