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Nike has filed a lawsuit against the makers of Lil Nas X’s “Satan shoes,” asking a federal court to “permanently stop” their sale.
Grammy-winning singer and rapper Lil Nas X collaborated with viral product brand MSCHF on the “Satan shoes,” which are modified Nike Air Max 97s featuring a pentagram pendant and a real drop of human blood mixed with red ink filling the shoe’s air chamber.
Only 666 pairs were made available, retailing for $1,018 — a reference to the Bible verse Luke 10:18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” which is also referenced on the shoe itself. The shoes sold out in less than a minute, per CNN.
They were announced after the release of the music video for Lil Nas X’s new song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” which features Biblical and mythological imagery, including the gay artist giving Satan a lap dance before snapping his neck and taking his horns.
Conservatives and right-wing Christians have, perhaps unsurprisingly, not responded well to either the video or the shoes.
Nike initially distanced itself from the shoes, issuing a statement saying it does not “have a relationship with Lil Nas or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”
But now the company is going one step further and suing MSCHF, demanding that it “permanently stop” fulfilling orders of the “unauthorized” shoes.
“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 said in the complaint. “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.”
Nike has not named Lil Nas X as a party in the lawsuit, CNN reports.
While MSCHF could argue the First Sale Doctrine, which allows for the resale and repurposing of copyrighted items, trademark attorney Josh Gerben told CNN that MSCHF’s decision to sell more than 600 pairs of the shoes could be an issue.
“It’s not just a single piece of art that some artist took a shoe and made,” Gerben said. “It’s that someone took a whole bunch of Nike shoes, customized them the exact same way and is selling them to a point in such sophisticated fashion that people think Nike’s involved.”
Prior to the filing of the lawsuit, Lil Nas X responded to critics of his use of Biblical and satanic imagery on Twitter.
“I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay,” Lil Nas X tweeted last week. “So i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”
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