Nike filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against MSCHF, the shoe designer behind Lil Nas X’s now-infamous “Satan” sneakers Monday, alleging that the shoe design and marketing implied Nike is involved with the shoe.
The shoe maker cited a need to “set the record straight,” according to NBC News, after the shoes went viral on social media and some outraged individuals accused Nike of supporting the “Old Town Road” rapper’s embrace of the occult.
Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamont Hill, is not named in the lawsuit, only MSCHF, which collaborated with Hill on the Satan shoe design, technically a follow-up to the shoe designer’s previously released “Jesus” shoe.
Nike had no involvement in either design; MSCHF reportedly modified deadstock Nike Air Max 97s, but the company is reportedly concerned that there has been “significant confusion” about its involvement or approval of the Satan shoe.
“Nike’s trademark infringement suit against MSCHF — Lil Nas X was not named as a defendant in the complaint — comes after many believed it was involved with the Satan Shoes, despite the company releasing a statement over the weekend saying it had nothing to do the manufacture or sale of the sneakers,” NBC News reported.
“The lawsuit argues that Nike must maintain control over its brand ‘by setting the record straight’ on what products bear its distinctive ‘SWOOSH’ logo,” the outlet noted.
The lawsuit makes clear that Nike believes its public image is suffering because of the controversy over Lil Nas X’s sneakers.
“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,” the company said in its suit.
Nike did try to head off the public relations nightmare Sunday night, telling media as outrage erupted on social media that the company “do[es] not have a relationship with Lil Nas or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”
“We don’t have any further details to share on pending legal matters,” Nike added later in a statement following news of the lawsuit. “However, we can tell you we do not have a relationship with Lil Nas X or MSCHF.”
Nike is also clear about what it wants from MSCHF. The suit alleges that MSCHF infringed on Nike’s trademark “SWOOSH” logo, using it deliberately in order to drive interest in its sneakers, and Nike wants both financial damages and a permanent injunction, meaning Nike wants a federal judge to put a halt to sales of the “Satan” sneaker.
That will certainly have an impact on Lil Nas X’s bottom line even though he is not named as a defendant in Nike’s suit. As The Daily Wire reported earlier Monday, all 666 pairs of the “Satan” sneakers sold out in under a minute, despite the $1018 price tag.