The Margin: Hell no: Nike sues ‘Satan Shoes’ maker MSCHF for trademark infringement

United States

Nike is suing the makers of Lil Nas X “Satan Shoes” after some customers gave the athletics giant hell on Twitter. 

Brooklyn art collective MSCHF modified a symbolic 666 pairs of Nike NKE, -1.14% Air Max 97s into its “Satan Shoes” as part of a limited edition collection in collaboration with the “Old Town Road” rapper. And even though they were being sold for the ungodly sum of $ 1,018, all 666 pairs reportedly sold out within a minute after dropping on Monday. 

The remodeled red and black kicks feature an inverted cross, a bronze pentagram charm and a drop of human blood in the mid-sole. The sneakers also include the biblical reference “Luke 10:18” — which marks the Bible passage that says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” 

These symbols are often associated with satanism and offended many people on Twitter TWTR, +0.19% on Monday, leading “Satan Shoes” and “Lil Nas X” to trend through the day. 

And the remodeled sneakers still prominently feature Nike’s signature Swoosh on the side, leading many offended followers to threaten to boycott the brand.

The critics included Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, who tweeted her dismay that kids could buy into the product because it was listed as “exclusive,” and warned, “We are in a fight for the soul of our nation.” 

Nike included several such comments in its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York on Monday, which alleges that the Brooklyn-based MSCHF Product Studio Inc infringed on and diluted its trademark, and that these modified sneakers have hurt the company’s reputation. “In the short time since the announcement of the Satan Shoes, Nike has suffered significant harm to its goodwill, including among consumers who believe that Nike is endorsing satanism,” the complaint reads. 

It should be noted that Lil Nas X is not named as a defendant in the suit.

Some of the online comments that Nike shared in its court filing include one person saying, “This is sickening!!! How is Nike not involved when there’s a Nike symbol on the shoe!!!” And “Jesus please save us!!!! Never supporting or buying Nike again!!!!” 

Nike is asking the judge to “immediately and permanently” stop MSCHF from filling any orders for the Satan Shoe. It also asks that MSCHF destroy the shoes and pay financial damages, which will be determined at trial. 

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The company told MarketWatch in a statement over email that it doesn’t have any further details to share on pending legal matters. “However, we can tell you we do not have a relationship with Lil Nas X or MSCHF,” he added. “The Satan Shoes were produced without Nike’s approval or authorization, and Nike is in no way connected with this project.”

MSCHF was not immediately available for comment.

Lil Nas X has been vocal about the controversy on social media, however. He tweeted back at Gov. Noem to “do ur job” instead of “tweeting about some damn shoes.”

The artist also poked fun at the uproar on Monday by tweeting “My bad bro” to a Twitter account named “God,” as well a sharing a short video that he captioned as “me and satan on the way to nike [sic] headquarters.”