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Nike sues over Lil Nas X "Satan Shoes," alleging trademark infringement

Lil Nas X opens up about coming out
Lil Nas X opens up about the difficulties of coming out: "We still have a long way to go" 02:22

Nike filed a lawsuit on Monday against the company selling the Lil Nas X "Satan Shoes," arguing the swoosh on the controversial shoe violates its trademark and damages its brand. The lawsuit comes the same day as the release of the shoes, which feature a bronze pentagram, the number "666" and a small amount of human blood.

The shoes, a collaboration between Lil Nas X and the New York-based art collective MSCHF, are modified versions of Nike Air Max 97s — and the brand's signature swoosh is featured prominently on the side of the shoe and on its tongue. The shoes, which sold out in minutes, cost $1,018 — a reference to the Bible passage Luke 10:18, which reads "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."

An image provided by Nike's attorneys in the lawsuit, showing differences between the original Air Max 97 and the modified version.  Nike

The shoes' satanic imagery drew strong reactions online — including from South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who shared an image of the shoes alongside a warning that "we are in a fight for the soul of our nation."

Nike referenced that controversy in its lawsuit, which asks the court to force MSCHF to stop producing the shoes and to award monetary damages for the financial harm the company has suffered.

The company argued the shoes are "likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF's products and Nike," alleging that there's "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." 

MSCHF said each shoe contains two fluid ounces of red ink and "one drop" of human blood in the sole. MSCHF

"As a direct and proximate result of MSCHF's wrongful acts, Nike has suffered, continues to suffer, and/or is likely to suffer damage to its trademarks, business reputation, and goodwill that money cannot compensate," the lawsuit added. "Unless enjoined, MSCHF will continue to use Nike's Asserted Marks and/or confusingly similar marks and will cause irreparable damage to Nike for which Nike has no adequate remedy at law." 

MSCHF did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment on the lawsuit, though it previously said, "We expected the backlash, and we're all for it."

This isn't the first time MSCHF has released modified Nikes. In 2019, the company dropped "Jesus Shoes," a pair of Air Max 97s modified with holy water and a golden crucifix. The release of the Satan Shoes is tied to Lil Nas X's new song "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)."

Lil Nas X addressed the lawsuit on Twitter with a "SpongeBob SquarePants" meme. However, the artist is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Sophie Lewis contributed reporting. 

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