Nike filed a trademark lawsuit Monday against the company behind Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoes,” which contain a drop of human blood and a pentagram, the latest controversy arising from the rapper’s music video for his song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” which sparked a culture war and right-wing outrage.
The lawsuit, which was filed against MSCHF Product Studio, claims the company allegedly engaged in trademark infringement, false designation of origin and trademark dilution. (MSCHF did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.)
The so-called “Satan Shoes” are a modification of Nike Air Max 97s, and feature a pentagram pendant, a drop of human blood in the sole of the shoe and “Luke 10:18” written on the midsole, a reference to the Bible verse where Satan falls from Heaven.
Nike has been trying to distance itself from the shoes, and said in a statement to Forbes that the shoes were “produced without Nike’s approval or authorization, and Nike is in no way connected with this project.”
Nike asks the court to force MSCHF to stop promoting and manufacturing the shoes, and require the company “to deliver to Nike for destruction any and all shoes” and other materials that allegedly infringe on Nike’s trademarks. (The lawsuit asks for damages, but doesn’t specify how much, only an “award of damages suffered by Nike according to proof at the time of trial.”)
In response to the lawsuit, Lil Nas X, who has been responding to conservative critics on Twitter, tweeted a reaction video where Squidward from the Nickelodeon series “Spongebob” asks for spare change, along with the caption “me after the nike lawsuit.”
MSCHF Product Studio released 666 pairs of the shoes Monday for $1,018 each, and they have since all sold out.
The shoes were designed as a tie-in to Lil Nas X’s music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” which features him grinding on the devil. The song is about the 21-year-old singer, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, hiding a queer relationship. “i know we promised to never come out publicly, i know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, i know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist,” he wrote in a note on Twitter with the song’s release. The music video has since sparked a culture war and backlash from conservatives, who disapprove of the song’s use of queer and satanist imagery.
Even Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem weighed in. “We are in a fight for the soul of our nation.” Noem tweeted in response to the Satan Shoes release. Lil Nas X then responded, “Ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!” Noem replied with a Bible verse, Matthew 16:26, which says, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”