Hermès Wins ‘MetaBirkin’ NFT Lawsuit Over Mason Rothschild. Luxury IPs In Web3 : The New Challenges
After a year-long legal battle, French luxury design house Hermès has won its case against NFT artist Mason Rothschild. The jury sided with Hermès after eight days of court proceedings. This is a landmark case in the world of NFTs, and it is sure to have far-reaching implications for both the art world and the world of high-end fashion.
Trademark Infringement and Cybersquatting
The brand was awarded $133,000 in damages, with jurors finding that the MetaBirkin NFTs were not protected by the First Amendment of artistic commentary. As a result, the decision ultimately found Rothschild liable for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and “cybersquatting” (the practice of registering names, especially well-known company or brand names, as internet domains, in the hope of reselling them at a profit).
Rothschild’s NFTs were released in November 2021 with the argument that Mason Rothschild was commenting on alleged animal cruelty involved in the production of leather goods. Coined by Rothschild as ‘Not Your Mother’s Birkin’, the fuzzy, garishly printed handbags which replicated Hermès’ famed silhouette, generated around 200ETH in primary sales (around $790,000 at the time).
The legal case, which began over a year ago, initially made headlines when it was first announced. This was because it was the first time that the fashion industry and NFTs had been explored through the lens of intellectual property law. The trial had a large number of spectators and generated many opinions on luxury’s influence over artistic freedom in the virtual world.
After Hermès saw the sales of Rothschild’s work, they sent him a cease and desist letter the next month. Rothschild responded by saying that his art was just a “playful abstraction of a cultural touchpoint.”
On January 14, the luxury house filed a trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit against Rothschild, despite his protests.
A digital speculator who is seeking to get rich quick by appropriating the brand MetaBirkins for use in creating, marketing, selling, and facilitating the exchange of digital assets known as non-fungible tokens. It also impeded our own plans to launch NFTs, stated Hermès.
In spite of Rothschild’s beliefs, the court ultimately leaned in favor of Hermès, judging that the house’s copyrights and brand image had been violated. The result has already received mixed responses across social platforms.
In today’s world, it can be hard to tell the difference between creative expression using existing intellectual property (IP) and plagiarizing concepts. However, this trial has made it clear that there are strict intellectual property standards even in newer worlds like the metaverse and Web3. These regulations cannot be escaped, even by the most popular and well-known creatives.