Update: Former Designers File Countersuit Against Nike

Sources: Oregon Live – By Allan Brettman | All Things Michael

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Amid the serious charges and countercharges of broken noncompete agreements, corporate espionage and toxic workplace culture, there has been a sideshow of sorts in the lawsuits between Nike and three of its departed designers.

It involves deceased pop superstar Michael Jackson.

Nike filed a lawsuit in December in Multnomah County Circuit Court accusing designers Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce and Mark Miner of breaking noncompete agreements, saying their plans to open a design studio for Adidas constituted a violation of the agreements. The designers filed a countersuit against Nike on Tuesday challenging the legality of the agreements.

The Nike lawsuit mentions Dekovic’s desire during his Nike tenure to develop a Michael Jackson “Moonwalker” line of footwear and sportswear “based on, in part, existing vintage Nike designs.”

The lawsuit said this plan would violate the “Employee Invention and Secrecy Agreement,” signed by Dekovic on April 4, 2007, to “assign Nike the rights to any product designs conceived while he was employed at Nike.”

“I am surprised that Dekovic would have been attempting to develop a personal (non-Nike) footwear product while employed by Nike as a footwear designer,” says a court filing on behalf of Nike vice president of footwear design Andrew Caine, who once worked five years for Adidas.

The Nike lawsuit says Dekovic told potential investors to expect $93 million in profit in the first six years after a 2015 Moonwalker product launch. The lawsuit contends Nike has rights of ownership to the Moonwalker designs.

However, the countersuit filed Tuesday says Nike “approved, did not object, and/or encouraged (Dekovic’s) contribution to the outside Moonwalker project.” The countersuit says nothing more about the subject.

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