The controversial “Satan Shoes” from rapper Lil Nas X and artistic brand MSCHF may have sold out in minutes early on Monday, but that doesn’t mean those who were lucky enough to buy a pair will actually ever receive them. Just now, Nike has filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court against MSCHF over its custom, unofficial Nike-branded sneakers, arguing “trademark infringement and dilution, false designation of origin, and unfair competition.”
In its legal complaint, Nike said MSCHF’s shoe was “materially altered to prominently feature a satanic theme,” adding that “this was done without Nike’s approval or authorization, and Nike is no way connected with this project.” On Sunday, after the collaboration between MSCHF and Lil Nas X leaked online, a spokesperson for Nike told Input the company wanted nothing to do with the shoes. “We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF,” the brand said. “Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”
Consumer confusion — “Nike has not and does not approve or authorize MSCHF’s customized Satan Shoes. 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,” the company argues in its lawsuit. “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.”
“Nike requests that the Court immediately and permanently stop MSCHF from fulfilling all orders for its unauthorized Satan Shoes.”
Of course, Nike is pointing to the fact the shoes became a trending topic on Twitter and Instagram, where many conservative and religious users were calling to boycott the brand for launching a satanic sneaker — even though Nike had nothing to do with the project. Still, the fact MSCHF didn’t remove the renowned Nike Swoosh logos from its customized Satan Shoes likely played a major role in the consumer confusion the sportswear titan points to in its lawsuit.
What does Nike want? The simple answer to that is that Nike doesn’t want MSCHF to fulfill the orders of its sold-out Satan Shoes, in a similar play as its suit against independent streetwear designer Warren Lotas after he introduced a bootleg version of Nike’s iconic Dunk sneaker. “Nike files this lawsuit to maintain control of its brand, to protect its intellectual property, and to clear the confusion and dilution in the marketplace by setting the record straight,” Nike said. “Nike has not and does not approve or authorize MSCHF’s customized Satan Shoes.”
As The Fashion Law points out, Nike is backing up its assertions of consumer confusion by including screenshots of people on social media claiming they’ll “never want to purchase any Nike products in the future” as a result of the unapproved Satan Shoes. “As an innovative brand that strives to push the envelope and do the right thing, Nike knows it may not please everyone all of the time,” added Nike. “But decisions about what products to put the SWOOSH on belong to Nike, not to third parties like MSCHF. Nike requests that the Court immediately and permanently stop MSCHF from fulfilling all orders for its unauthorized Satan Shoes.”
What Would MSCHF Do? — In a statement to Input, Nike echoed its earlier statements that it has no ties to the team behind the Satan Shoes. “Nike filed a trademark infringement and dilution complaint against MSCHF today related to the Satan Shoes,” a Nike spokesperson said. “We don’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. The Satan Shoes were produced without Nike’s approval or authorization, and Nike is in no way connected with this project.”
MSCHF, meanwhile, has not responded to our request for comment. That said, as was the case with Nike vs. Warren Lotas, there’s more to come to this story — so stay tuned as the plot starts to thicken.