The sportswear company, Nike, recently filed a lawsuit against the the art collective behind the Lil Nas X "Satan Shoes" that have sparked a social media backlash.
Nike filed the lawsuit on Monday and accuses MSCHF Product Studio, Inc. of trademark infringement. The Old Town Road singer released the 666 pairs of modified Nike sneakers, which were all sold out on the same day of the lawsuit.
The Satan Shoes were released to promote the singers latest single, Montero (Call Me By Your Name). The video portrays the provocatively dressed singer as both a fallen angel and a demon who rides a stripper pole to hell, where he gives a lap dance to the devil.
MSCHF has not responded to repeated requests for comment about the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Nike pleaded that the court should order MSCHF to "permanently stop" fulfilling orders for the "unauthorised" Lil Nas X Satan Shoes.
The modified black and red Nike Air Max 97 sneakers – adorned with a bronze pentagram charm and a drop of human blood in the mid-sole – are the latest customised "Nike" footwear product to be released by MSCHF.
Nike has stated that, since the release of the Satan Shoes, social media users have threatened to boycott Nike over the controversial shoes, as they believe Nike is endorsing Satanism.
Lil Nas X isn't named as a party in the lawsuit. Representatives for the musician still haven’t responded or released a statement regarding the situation.
Nike stated in the complaints that "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 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 issued statements to multiple media outlets, clarifying that it does "not have a relationship with Lil Nas or MSCHF" and that "Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them".
Lil Nas X faced serious backlash the day after he released the music video. Lil Nas responded to the backlash by posting, "I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s**t y'all preached would happen to me because i was gay," he wrote. "So i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.
According to multiple trademark attorneys, Nike has strong grounds for its lawsuit.
Alexandra J. Roberts, who teaches trademark and entertainment law at the University of New Hampshire's Franklin Pierce School of Law, stated that: "Yes, Nike has a colourable case for trademark infringement and dilution by tarnishment. Consumers may be misled to believe that the Satan Shoes are authorised or endorsed by Nike. Nike might also argue that the use harms its reputation by associating its brand with Satanic symbols."