Nike is suing Brooklyn art collective MSCHF over a series of "Satan Shoes" made in collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X.
The shoes in question are modified Nike Air Max 97s, and have been released in a limited collection of 666 pairs. They feature an inverted cross, a pentagram and read "Luke 10:18". Most controversially they are purported to contain drops of human blood.
The back of one shoe says "MSCHF" and the other says "Lil Nas X".
The limited collection of shoes dropped on Monday for $1,018 per pair, and all sold out within a minute. On Twitter, the rapper, born Montero Lamar Hill, said that he would choose the recipient of the 666th pair from social media users who circulated one of his tweets.
Nike claims that MSCHF infringed on and diluted its trademark with the black-and-red shoes. The sports company has not named Old Town Road rapper Lil Nas X as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Nike, in a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York on Monday, said the shoes were produced "without Nike's approval and authorisation", and the company was "in no way connected with this project".
"There is already evidence of significant confusion and dilution occurring in the marketplace, including calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF’s shoes based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorised or approved this product," the lawsuit said.
Nike asked the court to immediately stop MSCHF from fulfilling orders for the shoes and requested a jury trial to seek damages.
Lil Nas X's reaction
The new collection of shoes was released to support the rapper's latest single, Montero (Call Me By Your Name), a reference to his own moniker.
A frequent social media user, Lil Nas X referred to the lawsuit on Twitter through a series of SpongeBob SquarePants clips. One shows character Squidward saying, "Come on, come on, you guys know I was just kidding", and a second features the same character begging for spare change with the tweet, "Me after the Nike lawsuit".
He also tweeted a more earnest message about the emotional toll the backlash had taken on him, writing: "I try to cover it with humour but it's getting hard. My anxiety is higher than ever and stream Call Me by Your Name on all platforms now!"
- Additional reporting by Reuters