Nike sues the maker of Lil Nas X ‘Satan Shoes’ for trademark infringement
“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, including CNN, clarifying 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.”
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 customized Nike footwear product to be released by MSCHF. The company also released a pair of custom made “Jesus Shoes” in 2019.
In its complaint, Nike said the Satan Shoes prominently feature Nike’s famous Swoosh logo.
The controversy began last week with the release of the music video for Lil Nas X’s 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.
Following the video’s release on Friday, Lil Nas teased the release of his new Satan shoes on Twitter.
A scene from LIttle Nas X’s video for “Montero”
The day after Lil Nas X released the music video, he responded to the backlash with a post saying, “I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the st 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.
Trademark attorneys weigh in
The entire episode has all the ingredients for a potential landmark legal battle over the current limits of intellectual property law, according to multiple trademark attorneys, who say Nike has strong grounds for its lawsuit.
“Yes, Nike has a colorable case for trademark infringement and dilution by tarnishment,” said Alexandra J. Roberts, who teaches trademark and entertainment law at the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law. Gerben pointed out Nike shoe redesigners like MSCHF commonly sell their work on online marketplaces.
“You’ve got all kinds of artists that go out there and they take a shoe and they’ll do a whole bunch of custom art on the shoe and maybe resell it for $1,000 3,000,” Gerben said. “This is something Nike is well aware of and has done absolutely nothing to hermes twilly buy replica 2015
mess with because there’s a sneaker culture here.”
The problem for Lil Nas X and MSCHF in this case, according to Gerben, is the hundreds of shoes that were sold, since individual works of art are easier to defend in court than items that have been mass produced.
“People are thinking Nike’s behind something because there’s so many of these [shoes],” he said. “It’s not just a single piece of art that some artist took a shoe and made. 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.”Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc.2018. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard Poor’s and S are registered trademarks of Standard Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC.