Nike Settles After Filing Trademark Infringement Against Satan Shoemakers

16 Apr 2021 , 9:27pm

The settlement comes after a court in the Eastern district of New York issued a temporary restraining order

Nike has settled out of court with MSCHF (“Mischief”), an art collective based in Brooklyn, after the latter reworked 666 pairs of Nike Air Max 97s and rebranded them ‘Satan Shoes’ as part of a collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X.

As per the settlement, agreed 8 April, MSCHF will buyback shoes at the same price it sold them; $1,018. The price is a reference to Bible excerpt Luke 10:18 – “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” – which is embroidered on each pair. Six members of MSCHF donated blood which was mixed with red ink and injected into the mid-sole of each shoe.

Some pairs have appeared for sale on eBay for as much as $6,666, rendering an effective recall by MSCHF unlikely, especially given the shoes sold out in under a minute and all but one pair shipped before the restraining order was issued. 

The initial lawsuit was filed on 29 March by Nike to “maintain control of its brand, to protect its intellectual property, and to clear the confusion and dilution in the marketplace”. 

Judge Eric Komitee, of the Eastern District of New York, noted Nike’s goodwill in the cases it brings to court in granting a temporary restraining order but declined a total recall of the shoe. The complaint by Nike focused on the presence of its trademark ‘swoosh’ on an unauthorized product. 

The lawsuit also contained screenshot examples of distressed clients who believe that Nike is endorsing satanism because of the shoes. Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer represented that plaintiffs, Nike, and defendants MSCHF were represented by Debevoise & Plimpton. 

David H. Bernstein, the Debevoise partner assigned to MSCHF said: “MSCHF intended to comment on the absurdity of the collaboration culture practiced by some brands, and about the perniciousness of intolerance.”

MSCHF echoed that sentiment in a statement they released in early April: “Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other?”

The recall also includes ‘Jesus Shoes’, a similar rework of Nike sneakers by MSCHF which included the holy water in the sole of the shoe. MSCHF, labelled “the Banksys of consumer culture” by Vanessa Friedman also market ‘Birkinstocks’ – sandals made from the material of destroyed Birkin bags, though potential buyers will have to meet certain standards to acquired the footwear.