Earlier this year, three high profile Nike designers–Marc Dolce, Mark Miner, and Denis Dekovic–left to found a hip new Brooklyn design studio for rival Adidas. Monday, Nike filed a $10 million lawsuit against the designers, alleging that they leveraged “a treasure trove” of trade secrets to get the job.
According to reports on Reuters, ESPN, and the Portland Business Journal, Nike alleges the designers approached Adidas last April, pitching the company a design studio that would be modeled after Nike’s Innovation Kitchen–the experimental design studio that’s generated products like Nike Flyknit. To further sweeten the deal, the trio apparently promised information on Nike’s future plans.
And before leaving Nike, the company says Dekovic copied his laptop which contained thousands of proprietary documents on Nike’s global soccer lines. The suit also alleges that the designers then attempted to hide their tracks by deleting incriminating messages from their work-issued phones and laptops.
The designers have denied the allegations. In a statement their attorney provided to the Portland Business Journal:
“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. The athletic footwear industry is fast moving and rapidly changing and, as creative people, we thrive on innovation and freshness. We are looking forward to bringing new and innovative ideas and designs to Adidas when our non-competition agreement expires.”