Nike Suing Over Lil Nas X's "Satan" Sneakers

Image for article titled Nike Suing Over Lil Nas X's "Satan" Sneakers
Image: MSCHF

To go along with the release of his new video for Montero—in which he gives Satan a lap dance—Lil Nas X has also teamed up with a customs company for the release of a range of Hell-themed Nike Air Max sneakers. Only problem being that now Nike is suing.

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The company responsible for the shoes, MSCHF, have a history with this. In 2019 they released a “Holy” version of the same shoe (below), complete with a crucifix on the laces and “holy water” injected into the Air Max 97's bubble. That one went down just fine, and even made the mainstream news.

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Image: MSCHF

This time, though, with the shoe’s theme reversed—this one supposedly has a drop of human blood in the sole, and its heavenly motifs have been swapped for hellish ones, like a big pentagram on the laces—they’re in trouble. See, Nike has nothing to do with these shoes; MSCHF is simply buying a ton of them, customising them in-house, then reselling them.

So Nike has filed suit in a New York district court, claiming MSCHF’s sale of the shoes violates their trademark, and has led to brand confusion at a time when the wider reaction to both the video (which rules) and the sneakers (which are a bit much) has been...mixed. It’s led to sentences I never thought I’d ever be typing, like Lil Nas X having to own a Republican Governor on Twitter.

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Image: MSCHF

“Nike has not and does not approve or authorize MSCHF’s customized Satan Shoes, their case states. “Moreover, MSCHF and its unauthorized Satan Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF’s products and Nike. In fact, there is already evidence of significant confusion and dilution occurring in the marketplace, including calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF’s Satan Shoes based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorized or approved this product.”

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While previously OK with limited sales of customised sneakers, Nike has been cracking down on the practice lately, with the most high profile example being legal action taken against customiser Warren Lotas, whose horror-themed Dunk release in 2020 was blocked by the sportswear giant.

Interestingly, just ahead of the Lil Nas X collab, MSCHF cofounder Daniel Greenberg told Complex, “I feel like, no matter what drop it is, it’s hilarious that we always get the same question about legality. Every outlet always asks, ‘How have you guys not been sued into oblivion yet?’ We haven’t, obviously. We’re still here.”

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Note that while the suit involves a shoe made as a collaboration with the artist, Lil Nas X—despite his tweets—hasn’t been named as a defendant, only MSCHF.

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DISCUSSION

By
Gene Jacket

Guess what, kids? You can’t just take someone else’s work, repaint it, and sell it as your own creation. This is especially true when said work belongs to a multi-billion dollar global mega corporation. They could maybe give them away in a raffle or something, but selling them, that’s a big no-no.

I’m not arguing whether Nike is being cool, fwiw they’re not, but these MSCHF folks brought this on themselves by blatantly violating Nike’s trademark.