NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nike Inc said on Thursday it has settled a lawsuit against a Brooklyn company that made “Satan Shoes” in collaboration with the rapper Lil Nas X, and that the company has agreed to a voluntary recall.
The settlement with MSCHF Product Studio Inc resolves a trademark infringement lawsuit that Nike filed last week over the black-and-red, devil-themed sneakers, which carry the Nike “swoosh” logo.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge on Thursday sided with Nike Inc in ordering a Brooklyn company to temporarily stop further sales of “Satan Shoes” it produced in collaboration with the rapper Lil Nas X.
U.S. District Judge Eric Komitee in Brooklyn ruled three days after Nike sued MSCHF Product Studio Inc, claiming that the black-and-red, devil-themed sneakers, which carry the Nike “swoosh” logo, infringed its trademarks.
The sneakers are customized versions of the Nike Air Max 97 sneakers that purport to contain one drop of human blood in the midsoles, and are printed with “Luke 10:18,” a biblical passage referring to Satan’s fall from heaven.
Only 666 pairs, costing $1,018 each, were made. Lil Nas X, known for the song “Old Town Road,” was planning to select who gets the 666th pair, but that plan was shelved following Nike’s lawsuit filed on Monday. He is not a defendant in the case.
“MSCHF strongly believes in the freedom of expression,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Nike and the court to resolve this case in the most expeditious manner.”
Nike and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
MSCHF’s lawyers had argued that Satan Shoes were “not typical sneakers, but rather individually-numbered works of art,” following on the company’s “Jesus Shoes” based on the same Nike model in 2019.
They said a temporary restraining order was unnecessary because shoe buyers would not think Nike was involved, and all but the 666th pair had already been sold and no more were being made.
Nike’s lawyers, in contrast, said “even ‘sneakerheads’ were actually confused by MSCHF’s shoes,” and MSCHF had a “history” of shipping infringing shoes faster than courts could stop it.
Lil Nas X last month released a devil-themed video for his song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
Nike is suing rapper Lil Nas X and art collective MSCHF over a controversial pair of “Satan Shoes” that contain a drop of real human blood in the soles.
The $1,018 (£740) trainers, which feature an inverted cross, a pentagram and the words “Luke 10:18”, were made using modified Nike Air Max 97s.
MSCHF released 666 pairs of the shoes on Monday on its app and says they sold out in less than a minute.
Nike is claiming the collective infringed its trademark.
The black and red shoes were “dropped” by MSCHF on Monday, coinciding with the launch of Lil Nas X’s latest song Montero (Call Me By Your Name), which debuted on YouTube last Friday.
In the music video, the rapper is seen sliding down a stripper pole from heaven to hell, wearing a pair of the trainers.
The imagery and the shoes reference the Bible verse Luke 10:18 – “So He told them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’.”
Each shoe features a signature Nike air bubble cushioning sole, containing 60 cubic centimetres (2.03 fluid ounces) of red ink and a single of human blood, donated by members of the art collective.
The sports shoe giant says in a filing with the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York that it does not approve or authorise the customised Satan Shoes.
Nike is asking the court to stop MSCHF from selling the shoes and prevent them from using its famous Swoosh design mark.
“MSCHF and its unauthorised Satan Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create and erroneous association between MSCHF’s products and Nike,” the sports shoe giant says in the 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 authorised or approved this product.” View original tweet on Twitter
The lawsuit cites a tweet by popular shoe influencer @Saint from last Friday, which teased the upcoming release of the shoes and drummed up publicity over the weekend on social media and in the media in the US.
Some Conservatives, including South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and some religious followers, took offence at the controversial design of the shoes and criticised Lil Nas X and MSCHF on Twitter.
Lil Nas X hit back at the governor and other critics on Twitter, and on Monday was tweeting several memes on his profile in response to news of the Nike lawsuit.