Reports this week shared that Kobe Bryant’s estate has parted ways with Nike, and it looks as though it may have a plan in motion to start its own brand.
According to Complex, the estate’s Nike deal expired last week and a new contract has not been signed, seemingly ending the years-long relationship between the two.
Bryant — who first signed with Nike back in 2003 — secured a five-year deal in April of 2016 that lasted through last Tuesday.
The outlet reported the following statement from Nike:
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers. He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”
CNBC reports that according to intellectual property attorney Josh Gerben, a recent analysis of the legal filings on behalf of Bryant’s estate show that over 13 trademarks have been filed since May of last year. The filings are leading to speculation that wife, Vanessa Bryant, is “building an IP portfolio for a new brand launch,” he tells the outlet.
Some of the filings — all filed under “intent to use” — show trademark applications for everything from clothing and gym wear to loungewear and footwear — including “Play Gigi’s Way,” “Mamba and Mambacita,” “Baby Mambas” and “Mamba League.”
According to Gerben, “Vanessa — or the estate — is going through and relatively methodically trying to protect the brand around Kobe and his daughter,” he tells CNBC.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of Bryant’s business dealings. A tweet from entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar suggested that the late basketball star was gearing up to make some major moves right before his tragic death in what could have outshined his sports career.
“I met with Kobe Bryant in late December 2019. Kobe wasn’t happy with Nike and was going to leave it in 2020. Kobe was going to start Mamba, a shoe company owned by players. He passed away weeks later. What he was about to do in business was going to eclipse his sports career,” Pishevar said via Twitter in December 2020.
After news broke about the Nike deal ending, Vanessa Bryant assured Kobe’s fans on her Instagram Stories that she hopes to still allow them a chance to get to wear his products for years to come, according to US Magazine.
“I will continue to fight for that,” she said in the post. “We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies.”
Though the deal has ended, Complex reports that the brand still has more Kobe shoes scheduled to drop this year, which sources say will be the last of his Nike releases.