Will the Nike – adidas feud ever stop? The world’s two largest sports companies are in a fierce battle for supremacy, and on Monday, Nike took it to the next level by suing 3 designers who left the swoosh to join the 3-stripes.
In September, Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce and Mark Miner 3 Nike designers joined adidas. According to Nike, the 3 designers while still Nike employees, began to build a blueprint to replicate Nike’s famous Innovation Kitchen and stole secrets from inside.
The Kitchen is where Nike’s top designers build out shoes years in advance, testing new materials and concepts. Only a select few on Nike’s sprawling campus have access to open its doors.
The lawsuit, which asks for more than $10 million in damages, alleges that before the three left Nike, they were already consulting with adidas. To further sell themselves and capitalize on their position, Nike says Dekovic had the contents of his laptop duplicated, which gave him access to “thousands of proprietary documents relating to Nike’s global football product lines” where adidas and Nike most fiercely battle.
Among other things, the documents included specific designs, including models of team uniforms and products for the 2016 European Championships, plans for Nike-sponsored athletes in at least seven countries, unreleased financial information and projections concerning the company’s business and information about Nike’s planned launches in the marketplace.
“All of this information is among the most important and highly confidential information in Nike’s athletic footwear business, particularly its global football business,” the lawsuit reads. “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.”
Before leaving the company, Nike alleges the three designers erased emails from their computers and text messages on their phones to destroy any incriminating data that would lead back to their scheme.
Dekovic has taken to his Facebook page to address the issue, stating: “During our entire careers at Nike, we gave nothing but our maximum effort. We collectively poured in hours of passion and dedication beyond what was asked or expected of us, often prioritising our jobs over our families.”
“Until the very end, we stayed engaged, loyal and committed. We have a tremendous amount of respect for our colleagues at Nike and would never do anything to harm them. We find Nike’s allegations hurtful because they are either false or are misleading half-truths. We did not trade secrets or intellectual property when we departed in September.”
“We are looking forward to bringing new and innovative ideas and designs to adidas when our non-competition agreement expires.”
Even though adidas said at the time that the three wouldn’t work for them until 2015, Nike remained concerned about the trade secrets it claims were stolen from them.
The company says it has spent more than $1.5 million in the past three years alone to ensure that its employees keep information confidential, and said in a statement Tuesday night that “Nike is an innovation company and we will continue to vigorously protect our intellectual property.”
adidas officials did not specifically address the allegations.
“Many of our employees have storied careers and rich experiences, but we have no interest in old work or past assignments as we are focused on shaping the future of the sporting goods industry, not looking at what has been done in the past,” the statement said. [Sources: ESPN & Soccer Bible]
Nike and adidas fought over the patent of the knitted technology used in the Nike Flyknit. The feud continues with this lawsuit engaged by Nike against the newly appointed adidas designers. No doubt, the battle between these two brands is on and off the pitch. Can this get any worse?