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Nike Settles ‘Satan Shoe’ Lawsuit

Less than two weeks after its debut, the ‘Satan Shoe’ that created instant controversy is meeting a similarly infamous fate.

Nike Inc. said Thursday that it has reached a settlement in its March 29 lawsuit against MSCHF, the envelope-pushing agency behind the fiendish footwear created with rapper Lil Nas X and its more sacred predecessor, the Jesus Sneaker. The Oregon footwear giant’s suit claimed the heavily customized Air Max 97 silhouette—tricked out with pentagrams and human blood—created “confusion and dilution in the marketplace” as consumers would associate the iconic Swoosh logo not with the obscure Brooklyn agency but with Nike itself, which had no role in creating or authorizing the $1,018 shoe.

MSCHF is complying with Nike’s request that it voluntarily “recall” any of the 665 sneakers it sold out just one minute after they hit the web. (A giveaway for the 666th pair was scrapped after the judge overseeing the suit issued a temporary restraining order barring MSCHF from further distributing the shoes.) Under the term of settlement, the creative agency has agreed to take back any sneakers for the full price consumers paid “in order to remove them from circulation,” Nike said in a statement.

Buyers who decide to hang onto their now notorious and ultra-rare kicks are reminded to reach out to MSCHF if they run into a “product issue, defect, or health concern,” Nike added.

Fara Sunderji, a partner at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney’s New York office with a background in trademark, copyright, clearance, prosecution, maintenance, enforcement and litigation, previously told Sourcing Journal that the lawsuit presented an “uphill battle” for MSCHF.

The sight of a Swoosh logo alone on the side of a sneaker automatically make consumers “think of Nike as the source of the good on which it appears,” Sunderji said. “Nike’s case here is pretty simple to understand: MSCHF is selling Nike Air Max 97’s that have been modified in a way in which Nike does not approve. People see these Satan Shoes and think they come from Nike and some people don’t like that. Nike therefore claims that the release of these Satan Shoes is harming its valuable brand.”

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Despite both Nike and the ‘Satan Shoe’ creator claiming they’re “pleased” to settle their high-profile feud, MSCHF creative director Kevin Wiesner told The New York Times last year it “would’ve been rad” to receive a public disavowal from Nike or the Vatican when the Jesus Sneaker landed. A full-blown lawsuit from the deep-pocketed powerhouse, however, is entirely another matter.

MSCHF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s unclear what effect the settlement will have on the Satan Shoe’s presence on feet and in photos around the web. Those who sprang for the pricey limited editions are unlikely to hand back over what’s now a curious footnote—or chapter?—in sneaker history. For their part, Jesus Sneakers quickly popped on resale sites in the wake of their arrival. However, as of April 1, popular “stock market of things” platform StockX said the ‘Satan Shoe’ is unlikely to factor among its listings, “given the inherent challenges in authenticating custom sneakers” that largely preclude their inclusion in its catalog.

Meanwhile, though Nike took MSCHF to task over its trademark and intellectual property, the sneaker giant is facing claims that it disrespected the U.S. Postal Service’s IP with the advent of its “unauthorized” Air Force 1 USPS, complete with the mail carrier’s signature, red, white and blue Priority Mail branding.