Nike has won its first victory in court against Lil Nas X and MSCHF’s unauthorised “Satan shoes”. However, it’s unclear how big of an effect that ruling will actually have.
Following the release of the rapper’s religious-themed music video “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” last week, Lil Nas X and Brooklyn collective MSCHF—a group known for reappropriating high-end fashion items to create limited-edition art — announced they would be releasing 666 modified Nike Air Max 97 sneakers complete with a pentagram charm, Luke 10:18 embroidery, and a drop of human blood infused in the sole.
The $1,018 shoes sold out in a matter of minutes, prompting Nike to file a lawsuit against the makers over trademark infringement as they “were produced without Nike’s approval or authorization, and Nike is in no way connected with this project.”
On Thursday, a judge sided with the sportswear giant, issuing a temporary restraining order against the unofficial Nike sneakers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nike is claiming that the “Satan shoes” have damaged the company’s professional reputation as people believe they’re an official release causing many customers to threaten to boycott the company. Nike has not attempted to sue the art collective over their 2019 precursor to this design, the “Jesus shoe,” which was another unofficial Nike Air Max 97 with a crucifix zipper pull, a sole filled with holy water from the River Jordan, and scented with frankincense. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Nike has left open the possibility of amending its complaint to include a claim over Jesus shoes too.”
MSCHF’s lawyers argued that this isn’t a matter of trademark, but rather a First Amendment issue, and given the limited-edition nature of the shoes they are “not typical sneakers, but rather individually numbered works of art that were sold to collectors for $1,018 each.”
In a letter to the judge on Wednesday, they added that all but one pair of the “Satan shoes,” which was withheld for a giveaway, have already been shipped to customers thus making this temporary restraining order completely unnecessary.
Regardless, U.S. District Court Judge Eric Komitee ruled in Nike’s favour granting them the temporary restraining order against MSCHF.
Representatives for Nike, Lil Nas X, and MSCHF were not immediately available for comment.