Nike Suing Over Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan’ Sneakers

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 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.

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.

Image: MSCHF 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, and led to sentences I never thought I’d ever by typing, like Lil Nas X having to own a Republican Governor on Twitter.

Image: MSCHF Image: MSCHF

“Nike has not and does not approve or authorise MSCHF’s customised Satan Shoes”, their case states. “Moreover, MSCHF and its unauthorised 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 authorised or approved this product.”

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.”

Note that while the suit involves a show 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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Comments

  • Can’t tell me they didn’t know this was gonna happen, I don’t even live in the USA and could’ve guessed this exact reaction.
    They love themselves a good Satanic panic.

  • How is this any different than car customising. The sneaker customisers buy legit pairs and make additions to them. They aren’t violating IP or Copyright nor are they selling illegitimate bootlegs.

    Nike is out of line here.

    • They’d likely be relying on trademark law. The argument would be that the modified shoes no longer have the right to use the Nike trademarks, especially in the advertising.

      Nike can’t stop people using their trademarks in descriptive ways (e.g. saying that these customised shoes were built from a particular Nike sneaker), but leaving the logos prominently visible goes beyond that.

    • They may also have a Ship of Theseus type claim here, if enough parts of the shoe are replaced is it no longer simply modified and is actually a different shoe and not a Nike shoe.

      The biggest issue here is the celebrity endorsement, Lil Nas was not given expressed permission to use Nike’s trademark in promoting himself, his newest song, or for profit.

    • They’re using them to promote and profit on other things. Plus I doubt Nike want to be associated with people putting blood in fucking shoes

  • Yeah all the company will have to do is point to nike not doing anything with the previous shoes and win the lawsuit.

    Hail satan.

  • The only reason they’re suing is because of all the negative reaction this satin panic has brought & Nike don’t want any association with it. If they were customised as anything else Nike wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

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