While Kobe Bryant’s estate may have parted ways with Nike, there may be big plans in the works for the brand.
On Monday, Complex magazine first reported that Nike’s contract with the estate expired last Tuesday and no new agreement had been signed.
“The filings suggest that Vanessa [Bryant] is building an IP portfolio for a new brand launch,” Gerben told CNBC.
Some of the most recent filings include trademark applications for the following: Play Gigi’s Way, Mamba and Mambacita, Baby Mambas, and Mamba League. Gianna, or “Gigi,” was the name of Bryant’s daughter who died in the tragic crash of January 26, 2020. Her nickname was Mambacita.
A spokesperson for the estate did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The filings indicate that the trademarks are intended to be used on everything from apparel, gym wear, loungewear and footwear. Gerben said these were filed under “intent to use,” which usually means an underlying company is being planned.
The estate doesn’t just work on trademarks. The Mamba Sports Academy, which Bryant and eight others traveled to on the day of the crash, has since been renamed the Sports academy, with the word “Mamba” being retired.
“It was a mutual agreement, made in accordance with the wishes of his legacy,” the academy said in a statement when the change took place in May.
“Vanessa — or the estate — is going ahead and trying relatively methodically to protect the brand around Kobe and his daughter,” Gerben said.
The last trademark that Kobe Inc. before his death was for “Mambacita” on December 30, 2019, just a few weeks before the crash. The most recent application, “Play Gigi’s Way”, is dated March 10.
This isn’t the first time it’s been suggested that Kobe may have been looking to start a business of his own.
On December 29, 2020, Shervin Pishevar, an entrepreneur who co-founded Virgin’s Hyperloop, tweeted that he and Bryant had met and discussed how he could start his own sneaker company, which would have been called Mamba.
Nike produced nearly 20 sneakers with Bryant over the course of the 18-year partnership. However, the text in the contract allows Nike to continue selling Kobe Bryant shoes that were in the works before the deal’s termination on April 13, according to a person familiar with the Nike deal. Product launches are planned in the coming months, in addition to a May release tied to Bryant’s induction into the Hall of Fame.
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection with consumers. He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Although our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a much-loved member of the Nike family,” the brand said in a statement. statement on Monday.
Bryant first signed with the Swoosh in 2003, after starting his career as an Adidas endorser. In April 2016, he signed a five-year deal that went through him last Tuesday. Analysts at BMO Capital Markets have estimated the value of Kobe’s Nike business at around $250 million, but other analysts say this number could be high.
On Monday, Vanessa posted Bryant on her Instagram Stories, assuring fans that despite leaving Nike, her hope is that Kobe’s fans will be able to wear his products for years to come. US Magazine reported:.
“I will continue to fight for that,” she said in the post. “Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says it all.”
According to a person familiar with the situation, Vanessa Bryant was at odds with Nike over the company limiting the availability of Bryant’s products after his death.
BallerShoes DB, a database that tracks sneakers, said more than 100 players wore Bryant’s signature shoes during the 2019-20 season, making it the most popular shoe choice by players. Still, Bryant’s sneakers don’t seem to appeal to consumers as much as Michael Jordan’s or LeBron James’s.
Matt Powell, senior industry advisor at NPD Group, said Kobe Bryant shoes have become a much more important brand in China than in the US in recent years.
“It’s not a big loss for Nike,” he said.