Risk & Compliance

Nike Settles $10M Suit Against Ex-Designers

Footwear giant had alleged three designers stole trade secrets to help them open a design studio for Adidas.
Katie Kuehner-HebertJune 10, 2015

Nike has settled a $10 million lawsuit that accused three of its former designers of stealing a “treasure trove” of trade secrets so they could start a footwear design studio for German rival Adidas.

An attorney for the designers — Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce and Mark Miner — said the case against them had been resolved through a confidential settlement, Reuters reports.

Nike sued the three in December for allegedly breaking their non-compete agreements by stealing sensitive documents, including drawings for an unreleased shoe made for one of Nike’s sponsored athletes, and then consulting with Adidas to open a “knockoff” of Nike’s own design lab.

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The designers tried to cover their tracks by erasing emails and text messages from their work-issued cellphones and laptops, the suit said.

Adidas had announced in September that it would open an urban footwear design studio in Brooklyn, to be staffed by Dekovic, Dolce and Miner. Nike also claimed that Adidas knew of the non-compete agreements and promised to pay for any legal fallout.

The designers filed a countersuit last month that claimed Nike invaded their privacy and broke federal law in accessing their personal electronic communications. They said Nike’s corporate culture was “stifling their creativity” and that their idea for a design studio did not rely on its confidential information.

According to The Oregonian, Dekovic, Dolce and Miner had been considered among the top footwear designers at Nike. The information they allegedly took from the company also included future strategic development plans, product offerings and product launches that reflected Nike’s soccer business plan for the next three to four years.

“The hiring of Dekovic, Dolce and Miner had been seen as a coup for Adidas, which has its North American headquarters in Portland and has placed special emphasis on growing sales in the U.S.,” The Oregonian said.