Nike has sued internet collective MSCHF for selling “unauthorized Satan Shoes” in partnership with rapper Lil Nas X. The shoe company says MSCHF has infringed its trademarks by selling limited edition custom Nikes that supposedly modified with a drop of human bloodSince the Satan Shoes (as they are officially called) were announced last week, Nike claims they have damaged its reputation, “including among consumers who believe Nike endorses Satanism.” It demands that the shoes be destroyed and that MSF-Holland pays financial compensation.
MSCHF is known for its stunt products, such as the 2019 ‘Jesus Shoes’, a pair of $ 1,425 white Nike Air Max 97s with custom stitching and 60cc of water from the Jordan River. Nike did not object to the Jesus Shoes. But it’s apparently less happy with their theological inversion: a 666-pair drop of $ 1,018 red and black Air Max 97s, with 60 cc of ink and one drop of human blood, embellished with a pentagram.
The Nike suit contains a few common arguments against modifying shoes, including that “making changes to the midsole can pose safety risks for consumers.” (These shoes are accused of placing people’s souls and their soles are at risk.) But above all, it argues that a satanic shoe with literal blood is bad for the Nike brand.
MSCHF x Lil Nas X “Satan Shoes”
Nike Air Max ’97
Contains 60cc ink and 1 drop of human blood
️666 pairs individually numbered
️ March 29, 2021 pic.twitter.com/XUMA9TKGSX
– SAINT (@saint) March 26, 2021
To make its case, Nike cites comments on social media from people who don’t realize that MSCHF was simply unofficially reselling the shoes. ‘I will not buy Nike again. You have been banned! “Says one.” This is nauseous !!! How come Nike is not involved if there is a Nike symbol on the shoe !!! “says another. “MSCHF is misleading consumers into believing that Nike produces or approves the Satan Shoes,” claims Nike’s complaint. “The consumer’s belief that the Satan Shoes are genuine Nike products will ensure that consumers will never buy Nike products again in the future.”
Like Alexandra Roberts, a law professor at the University of New Hampshire listed on Twitter, MSCHF can defend itself on several grounds. It can cite the First Sale Doctrine, which protects the resale of goods protected by intellectual property laws, such as people selling designer clothes on Poshmark, for example. It could also claim the shoes are protected as a parody or claim that buyers are unlikely to confuse these modified Satan Shoes with standard Nikes, despite random internet commentators.
Very, very few people will ever own a $ 1,000 blood-and-pentagram sneaker. If the case goes to court, however, there’s more at stake than a limited edition Satanic shoe line. “The case has potentially broad implications as we see an increase in this type of branded goods customization and upcycling,” said Roberts. The edge via email.
It’s okay to resell products directly, says Roberts, and it’s legal to advertise goods while mentioning someone else’s trademark. You can also do things like cut up Barbie dolls and sell images of them as art“But what about the companies that make jewelry from authentic Chanel buttons or cut fringes into real Vuitton bags?” Earlier this year Chanel sued a company for ‘darkening’ its brand for earrings with recycled buttons.
In fact, MSCHF bought shoes that it could legally resell with Nike’s brand, but it turned them heavily into what may be a new product that Nike has no control over, and then sold them as a commercial asset rather than a traditional work of art. Depending on how a court weighs all of these factors, this can set a precedent for future cases. “I think other high fashion brands will keep a close eye on this case,” said Roberts.
The Satan Shoes fell apart from a provocative Lil Nas X music video that is the anger drew from conservative commentators. So it makes sense for Nike to distance themselves. But as The fashion law notes, MSCHF has anticipated and even invited lawsuits in the past, saying that a lawsuit would “help increase the value of the product.” By taking it to court, Nike is almost certainly bolstering the profile of MSCHF’s latest drop and potentially creating new problems.
“I’m not shocked that Nike chose to file a lawsuit, but I think they might also want to be careful not to be seen as oppressive language or to side with Christian law over a popular black. artist, ”says Roberts. “I expect Nike to hope for a prompt, low-key settlement in which MSCHF agrees not to ship the shoes.”
MSCHF did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lil Nas X who posted a joke “apology” video for the shoes yesterday, is not named as defendant in the suit.