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Formers Nike designers sued for sharing secrets with Adidas

California residents might be interested to learn about an intellectual property dispute that is going on between two of the largest sportswear manufacturers in the world. In a lawsuit that was filed in Oregon, Nike is alleging that three of its former designers violated non-compete agreements and stole intellectual property by sharing information with Adidas.

According to the lawsuit, the three designers secretly began sharing information with Adidas while still employed by Nike. The designers pitched and sold the idea for Brooklyn Creative Design Studio to Adidas. Nike claims that the idea for the studio replicates Nike's own design lab called The Kitchen. Nike is also claiming that the three designers shared information with Adidas about Nike's future design plans for various fashion lines.

Nike claims that Adidas was aware of the designer's transgressions and even offered to cover the expense of any legal fallout that might arise. In addition to purchasing the idea for the design studio, Adidas offered the designers high-paying employment contracts. As part of the non-compete agreements that they signed with Nike, the designers are barred from associating with Adidas while working for Nike and the first year after their employment with Nike ends. Nike is seeking more than $10 million in damages.

Although proving that intellectual property has been stolen can sometimes be difficult, the existence of a non-compete agreement can help with the process. If a business owner believes that one of their employees has shared important information with a competing company, an attorney might be able to help the business owner to enforce the terms of the non-compete agreement.

Source: Reuters, "Nike accuses former shoe designers of taking secrets to Adidas", Andrew Chung, December 09, 2014

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