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USPS Criticism of Unauthorized Sneaker Turns the Tables on Nike

When it comes to Nike’s latest high-profile brand protection imbroglio, it appears the proverbial shoe is on the other foot.

When images of MSCHF’s Satan-inspired Lil Nas X sneaker collaboration first hit the web less than two weeks ago, they almost instantly sparked an uproar. With the iconic Swoosh emblazoned on the shoe’s side and tongue—MSCHF retooled 666 Air Max 97s for the project—many wrongly lashed out at Nike for its perceived role in creating the controversial “Satan Shoes.”

The same day the shoes released, selling out in less than a minute, Nike filed a lawsuit against MSCHF “to clear the confusion and dilution in the marketplace by setting the record straight.” By Thursday, a Brooklyn court had approved a temporary restraining order against MSCHF.

In an unexpected moment of irony, the U.S. Postal Service released a statement that same day calling out Nike for allegedly using the agency’s intellectual property in its upcoming Nike Air Force 1 USPS. The USPS said it “will take whatever actions it deems necessary to protect its valuable IP rights.”

“The Postal Service, which receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations, protects its intellectual property,” the USPS said. “Officially licensed products sold in the marketplace expand the affinity for the Postal Service brand and provide incremental revenue through royalties that directly support it. Sales of unauthorized and unlicensed products deny support to the hardworking women and men of the Postal Service.”

First unveiled in early March, the Nike Air Force 1 USPS appears to draw direct inspiration from the shipping service’s well-known Priority Mail boxes, down to its blank white canvas and patriotic red and blue accents. The sneaker, USPS notes, is “neither licensed nor otherwise authorized by the U.S. Postal Service.” The agency said it had made repeated attempts to work with Nike.

“This is an unfortunate situation where a large brand such as Nike, which aggressively protects its own intellectual property, has chosen to leverage another brand for its own gain,” the USPS said. “The Postal Service is disappointed in Nike’s lack of response to repeated attempts to come to a solution.”