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MSCHF Taunts Walmart, Amazon, Others With ‘Illegal Merch’

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MSCHF, the Brooklyn art collective that Nike took to court last year for its so-called Satan Shoes, is back with another controversy-baiting release.

This time, however, the firm is counting on a lawsuit. Unveiled Monday, the Cease & Desist Grand Prix places the logos of major brands like Walmart and Amazon on the fronts and backs of eight motorsport-inspired long-sleeve tops. MSCHF fans were then presented with the opportunity to buy the shirt that they believed would first illicit a cease-and-desist letter. Whoever chose correctly will “win” the competition and receive a special MSCHF “Grand Prix champion’s hat, as well as the “illegal merch.”

MSCHF has yet to announce or indicate if any of the eight brands have chomped at the bait. At least one, Subway, appears to be taking the stunt in stride. On Monday evening, the sandwich chain tweeted out a shirt design that remakes MSCHF’s tops in its own green and yellow colors and features MSCHF’s logo prominently on the front and arms.

“Two can play this game,” Subway wrote. “Who’s interested in this bad boy? Hurry before @mschf shuts us down.”

Other brands targeted in the drop included Disney, Microsoft, Tesla, Starbucks and Coca-Cola. All eight styles have sold out.

Unlike with last year’s Satan Shoes, MSCHF is making no attempt to defend the legality of its actions. The Cease & Desist Grand Prix’s landing page openly admits the shirts “illegally use” the various companies’ logos. A graphic reading “illegal logo usage” points to a gif of the eight shirts.

Instead, the professional provocateur is encouraging conflict. Links placed beneath each shirt’s purchase button lead to pre-made tweets taunting the respective brand. So far, hundreds have tweeted using MSCHF’s “cdgrandprix” hashtag.

A tongue-in-cheek manifesto addressed to “Corporate Legal Dept.” and entitled “We stole your logo” begs for legal repercussions, but also hints at a more genuine frustration with copyright protections that was likely informed from MSCHF’s personal legal experience with Nike last year.

“Rest assured, dearest corporate lawyers, we will comply with any C&Ds we get,” the letter reads. “Independent creators can never fight real legal action with a corporation: they can’t afford it. Thus copyright falls into that category in which ‘if the penalty for a crime is monetary, that law exists only for the lower class.’”

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