Schwartz & Ponterio, PLLC holds lawyers responsible for legal malpractice.

Logo design: Even nonartists may need copyright law protection

On Behalf of | May 17, 2020 | Copyright Law

Many artists in New York understand the importance of protecting their creative work. They want to prevent others from profiting off of their creations without properly compensating the artist. However, career artists are not the only people who may need the protection of copyright law. Anyone in any industry who creates some type of artistic work may want to file for a copyright. One professional basketball player discovered this after, according to him, sports clothing brand Nike allegedly stole and profited off a logo design he says he created to represent himself.

The basketball star in question is Kawhi Leonard, who has played for different National Basketball Association teams for almost a decade. He claims that when he was in college, he designed a logo that incorporated his initials and his jersey number, “2”, and he says the design also paid homage to his large hands. Leonard asserts that, at the time, he had an endorsement deal with Nike and that he shared the logo design, called the “Klaw,” with the company. Nike modified the logo somewhat to its more-recognizable form today, and used it on clothing and footwear.

Just two years ago, Leonard ended his deal with Nike and claimed that that the logo belonged to him, saying that the company used several versions of it over the years, but that he always had final approval. Nike filed suit against him for copyright infringement, breach of contract and fraud. Leonard argues that he should be considered the sole author of the logo. Unfortunately, the court sided with Nike and ruled that the logo Leonard created was significantly different than the one Nike used. This means Leonard cannot use the logo in endorsement deals with other companies.

It is difficult to say what might have happened if Kawhi Leonard had obtained a copyright for his original design, but it shows that even nonartists may want to consult an attorney regarding any artistic work they create. A copyright law attorney can help anyone with questions about ownership of artistic works. Artists and nonartists alike here in New York may want to consider taking action to protect their work.