Nike is suing three former designers who left the company to work for rival Adidas.
The company is seeking up to $US10 million in damages from Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce and Mark Miner, and attempting to stop them from opening an Adidas-backed design center in Brooklyn, The Oregnonian‘s Allen Brettman reports.
All three employees reportedly had non-compete agreements preventing them from working for a competitor within a year of their employment with Nike.
But Dekovic allegedly met with Adidas executives about opening the design center in June, while he was still employed with Nike as a senior design director, the lawsuit claims.
The design center was thought to be a way around Nike’s non-compete clause, since Dekovic and the others wouldn’t be working directly for a competitor, according to the allegations.
The lawsuit also claims that Dekovic duped Nike into paying more than $US50,000 to relocate him and his family to Italy in June.
The relocation was based “on the false basis that he planned to continue his career at Nike for the foreseeable long-term future,” the lawsuit says, according to Brettman’s report. “In reality, Dekovic knew all along that he was going to leave Nike within the year, one way or another.”
“In fact, he gloated to his co-conspirators with a month of his move that ‘Italy is one of those’ countries among the set of ‘countries where (Nike’s) non-compete is difficult to enforce.”
In a separate claim, the lawsuit alleges that Dekovic was talking to potential investors about launching a shoe on his own called the “Moonwalker.”
Nike is seeking to stop the shoe’s launch and claims it has the rights to the designs for the “Moonwalker,” which was apparently inspired by Michael Jackson’s “moon walk.”
The lawsuit further claims that Dekovic, Dolce and Miner have been contacting Nike employees to join them in their new venture.
All three men denied Nike’s claims in a statement released by their lawyer.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for our colleagues and Nike and would never do anything to harm them,” the statement 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.
“We are looking forward to bringing new and innovative ideas and designs to adidas when our non-competition agreement expires.”
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