Over the weekend, Fox News anchor Pete Hegseth speculated that Nike might have grounds to sue Lil Nas X collaborator MSCHF over its “Satan shoes” — customized Nike Air Max 97s supposedly featuring a drop of blood mixed with red ink in each of the 666 pair’s Air Max units — made to promote Nas’ new single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” Well, it looks like the sneaker giant really has done just that, with New York Times Sports reporter Kevin Draper posting a copy of the first page of a lawsuit filed in New York’s Eastern District for trademark infringement, false designation of origin/unfair competition, and trademark dilution.
It’s not an entirely unusual move for Nike, which jealously guards its trademarks but usually allows for customizers and collaborators to sell limited runs of its sneaker models. Just recently, Nike settled a lawsuit with streetwear brand Warren Lotas, which sold a lookalike sneaker it collaborated with Jeff Staple on. The “Illegal Fake” sneakers toyed with the design of the Nike Dunk, transforming the trademark swoosh into a hockey goalie mask a la Jason Voorhees of the Friday The 13th franchise. However, rather than going to court, Warren Lotas agreed to cease production and sale of its shoe and refrain from creating similar designs in the future.
As MSCHF and Lil Nas used Air Max 97s to create their controversial sneaker and judging from the confusion displayed on Fox News and in other outlets, something similar could happen here, although there are some differences as well. MSCHF didn’t create a new sneaker similar to Nike’s, it simply bought and customized several pairs of the existing shoe. Still, MSCHF may not want to go toe-to-toe in court with the behemoth brand and choose to settle as well. However, they won’t have to pull shoes from any shelves; according to Lil Nas X, all 666 pairs sold out within a minute of availability.
Update: Nas seems to be taking the news of the suit in stride, reacting with his usual cheeky humor.