A United States federal judge has sided with sportswear giant Nike Inc in ordering a company in New York to temporarily stop further sales of “Satan Shoes” it produced in collaboration with the rapper Lil Nas X.
US District Judge Eric Komitee in Brooklyn ruled three days after Nike sued MSCHF Product Studio Inc, claiming that the black-and-red, devil-themed sneakers, which carry the Nike “swoosh” logo, infringed its trademarks.
The shoes are customised versions of the Nike Air Max 97 sneakers that purport to contain one drop of human blood in the midsoles and are printed with “Luke 10:18,” a biblical passage referring to Satan’s fall from heaven.
Only 666 pairs, costing $1,018 each, were made. Lil Nas X, known for the song Old Town Road, was planning to select who gets the 666th pair, but that plan was shelved following Nike’s lawsuit filed on Monday. He is not a defendant in the case.
Grammy award-winner Lil Nas X is not a defendant in the lawsuit involving Nike.
“MSCHF strongly believes in the freedom of expression,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Nike and the court to resolve this case in the most expeditious manner.”
Nike and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests by the Reuters news agency for comment.
MSCHF’s lawyers had argued that the Satan Shoes were “not typical sneakers, but rather individually-numbered works of art,” following on the company’s “Jesus Shoes” based on the same Nike model in 2019.
They said a temporary restraining order was unnecessary because shoe buyers would not think Nike was involved, and all but the 666th pair had already been sold and no more were being made.
Nike’s lawyers, in contrast, said “even ‘sneakerheads’ were actually confused by MSCHF’s shoes,” and MSCHF had a “history” of shipping trademark-infringing shoes faster than courts could stop it.
Lil Nas X last month released a devil-themed video for his song Montero (Call Me By Your Name).