Nike filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit Monday against the company that released a controversial customized version of its sneakers in collaboration with the rapper Lil Nas X.
The “Old Town Road” artist worked with MSCHF to release “Satan Shoes” on Monday. The sneakers are modified Nike Air Max 97s — decorated with a pentagram pendant and a reference to Luke 10:18, a Bible verse about Satan’s fall from heaven.
MSCHF, a company known for creating controversial and viral products, confirmed Sunday that the shoes contained a drop of human blood inside the sole, drawn from members of the MSF team.
Nike filed the suit — Lil Nas X was not named as a defendant — after many people said they believed it was involved with the shoes, even though it released a statement over the weekend saying it had nothing to do with them.
The lawsuit argues that Nike must maintain control over its brand “by setting the record straight” about what products bear its distinctive “swoosh” logo.
“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 lawsuit says.
In a statement after the complaint was filed, Nike reiterated that it is in no way affiliated with Satan Shoes.
“We don’t have any further details to share on pending legal matters,” Nike said. “However, we can tell you we do not have a relationship with Lil Nas X or MSCHF.”
MSCHF did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lil Nas X tweeted about the news with a short clip from the cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants,” in which a character says: “I was just kidding. … You guys know I was just kidding, right?”
The release of the Satan Shoes coincides with Lil Nas X’s latest single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” and its accompanying music video. In the video, Lil Nas X is seduced out of what appears to be the Garden of Eden, falls into hell, and gives the devil a lap dance.
The rapper, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, put out a short YouTube video Sunday titled “Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe.” While holding the sneaker, Lil Nas X begins speaking — and before he gets to the advertised apology, the video cuts to the clip from “Montero” of him giving the devil a lap dance.