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Nike Sues Former Designers for $10 Million

The war between Nike and Adidas rages on——this time in the courtroom. Nike has filed a $10 million lawsuit against three former (and some if its biggest) designers Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce and Mark Miner, for allegedly leveraging a “treasure trove” of company trade secrets to land new gigs at Adidas.

In April, Nike says the designers approached Adidas to start up a Brooklyn-based design studio similar to Nike’s Innovation Kitchen on its Oregon campus. The Kitchen, the incubator for some of Nike’s most successful launches including the Flyknit, is where the No. 1 athletic footwear brand tests new materials, concepts and technology years before they make it to market. A limited number of Nike employees have access to the facility.

The company also claims Dekovic, who was senior design director for Nike football (soccer), copied his laptop which is said to have contained thousands of proprietary details about Nike’s global soccer collections and future collections. All three designers allegedly attempted to delete incriminating messages from their work phones and computers.

The lawsuit states, “Disclosure of any of this information would irreparably harm Nike, by, among other things, enabling a competitor to effectively undermine and counter Nike’s performance in the athletic markets for the next three to four years.”

In a statement released by their law firm to the Portland Business Journal, the designers said, “We find Nike’s allegations hurtful because they are either false or are misleading half-truths. We did not take trade secrets or intellectual property when we departed Nike in September. The athletic footwear industry is fast moving and rapidly changing and, as creative people, we thrive on innovation and freshness. We are looking forward to bringing new and innovative ideas and designs to Adidas when our non-competition agreement expires.”

Adidas has not addressed Nike’s allegations.