Fashion Law: Nike Sues Ralph Lauren Over Non-Compete
Activewear tycoon Nike Inc. filed a lawsuit earlier this week against Matthew Millward alleging the former design executive for the brand violated his non-compete agreement upon accepting employment at Ralph Lauren’s Club Monaco.
Nike claims that Millward resigned in early October to take a job as vice president of men’s design for Club Monaco. So where does the problem lie – it seems as though an executive left one job for another? Big whoop, right? Unfortunately, no as the legality of the employment, according to Nike, lies on the fact that Millward is being accused of bringing sensitive information about the company’s plans to a competitor in the “ath-leisure” space.
Millward acted as the senior apparel design director for Nike since 2012, a role entitled to a base salary of $215K as well as a one-year non-compete clause. In the suit Nike describes Millward as “a senior, highly compensated former Nike apparel designer who was given broad access to Nike’s most competitively sensitive trade secrets.”
Nike shared that Millward was also involved in the design of the jackets for the US athletes at next summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Nike continued: “The jacket has not been released to the marketplace, and its design remains highly confidential…a competitor could design a knock-off product and have it ready to hit the retail market before or at the time when Nike’s Medal Stand jacket makes its initial splash in the media.”
Nike claims to have warned both Millward and Ralph Lauren of its position but felt obligated to take legal action in Oregon federal court. Ralph Lauren officials had no comment on the matter.