Designers sued by Nike fire back

The three designers sued for jumping ship to Adidas express “alarm about the culture of distrust and intimidation.”

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The three designers sued for jumping ship to Adidas were “alarmed about the culture of distrust and intimidation” from Nike executives, according to a court document. reports:

It asks that the court award nothing to Oregon-based Nike, which is seeking $10 million from the designers and the return of compensation Nike will have paid the designers during during a yearlong no-compete agreement they had signed previously. The designers’ counterclaim seeks unspecified damages, attorney fees and legal costs. Most significantly, the counterclaim challenges Nike’s no-compete agreements for the designers, contending that two clauses are unenforceable under Oregon law.

Dekovic, Dolce and Miner announced last summer they were departing Nike to form the Brooklyn Design Studio for Adidas. Adidas, the German sportswear company with North American headquarters in Portland, has said the Brooklyn Design Studio is expected to open this fall. Nike has accused the three of violating their no-compete agreements and of taking documents from the company without permission in an attempt to mimic the company’s “Innovation Kitchen.”

The designers said those accusations were without merit Tuesday.

Portland Business Journal writes:

“None of the designers has ever passed any trade secret information to Adidas or any other competitor, and they will not ever do so,” they said in a response filed in state court. The designers called claims that they took trade secrets “meritless,” and said Nike didn’t “allege a single instance of disclosure or mmisappropriation of a protected trade secret or any expression of intent to do so.”

“The designers independently decided that the Nike corporate culture was stifling their creativity. And they, along with many of their design co-workers, were alarmed about the culture of distrust and intimidation that permeates the relationships between Nike executives and Nike design creatives.”

In another filing, Nike on Monday asked the court to dismiss photographer Jacobus Renteester’s suit over unlawful use of a photo of Michael Jordan for the logo of the Jordan brand.

Nike called the claims “baseless,”  PBJ reports.

The motion lists numerous differences between Rentmeester’s photo and the Jordan logo, including clothing, placement, scale, stance, body position, setting, background, color, lighting, shadows.

“The Jumpman logo is not objectively similar to the Rentmeester photo,” Nike said in the motion.

 Rentmeester’s images, along with the brand logo, appear on this link. What do you think? Is Rentmeester’s claim “meritless”?