PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Nike sued three shoe designers, claiming they hatched a “plot” to steal trade secrets and take them to Adidas.
Nike claims that defendants Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce and Mark Miner not only conspired to swipe trade secrets, but bragged about it on social media.
Nike reported gross revenue of $25.3 billion in 2013, Adidas $18.1 billion (converted from euros) according to the companies’ financial statements.
In its Dec. 8 lawsuit in Multnomah County Court, Nike claims that in April this year the three defendants started using social media to “buy thousands of phony social media followers” to create a “false perception of buzz and popularity” for their design careers and catch the attention of Adidas.
Nike claims they launched “knock-off” concepts such as an innovation lab – at Nike it is known as “the kitchen” – and created a “Brooklyn Creative Design Studio,” at which they worked for Adidas as contractors, to try to duck the non-competition contract they had signed with Nike.
Adidas promised to “pay an outside law firm to help manage the situation” if Nike sued the designers for violating the non-compete clause, Nike says in the complaint.
It claims the designers used Nike-issued phones and laptops to transfer a “treasure trove of Nike product designs, research information and business plans for use in Adidas new design studio.”
When they quit Nike, the defendants tried to cover their traces by deleting emails and files from the devices, “believing them to be clear of evidence of their betrayals,” Nike says in the complaint.
Defendant Dekovic even persuaded Nike to pay for his move to Italy due to his immigration status, taking advantage of the move to meet with Adidas representatives in Germany, Nike claims. It says Dekovic is planning to release a line of “Moonwalker” shoes in early 2015 based on “existing vintage Nike designs.”
The day after the three quit Nike, they “plastered their social media” with messages for followers, such as “Grateful for the past, Excited about the future, 3 brothers, 3 dreamers, 3 stripes,#teamadidas2015,” according to the complaint.
Nike claims it has invested more than $1.5 million on a security initiative known as “Keep It Tight” – a program designed to educate employees on Nike’s proprietary and confidential information.
Nike asked the court to “enjoin the defendants from, among other things, using the misappropriated materials and immediately return those materials to Nike.”
Nike also seeks damages for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, civil conspiracy, conversion, breach of faith, tortious interference, and fraud in the inducement.
Nike is represented Amy Joseph Pedersen with Stoel Rives of Portland, and by Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher of Irvine, Calif.
Nike’s attorneys referred questions to Nike’s public relations representative, who also declined to comment.
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