The trial of luxury brand Hermès v NFT artist Mason Rothschild reached a verdict on February 8 after several days of deliberations by a nine-member jury.
Hermès’ lawsuit concerns Rothschild’s MetaBirkins NFT collection, and a jury found that the NFT caused Hermès $133,000 in damages. In other words, Mr. Rothschild created the NFT based on the design of Hermès’ famous bag “Birkin” and determined that he used Hermès’ credit to profit.
The jury also ruled that, contrary to what Rothschild’s attorneys had argued, NFTs were not protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or freedom of expression.
where is the problem?
This lawsuit will serve as an important legal precedent for NFT creators and a legal framework for intellectual property (IP) rights related to NFTs. Going forward, NFT creators will pay more attention to creating NFTs using existing brand intellectual property to avoid lawsuits.
David Leichtman, managing partner of law firm Leichtman Law, told CoinDesk TV that the lawsuit was not necessarily about Rothschild’s use of Birkin. The question is rather whether he intended to mislead consumers into thinking the MetaBirkin NFT was associated with products representing Hermès.
“The question is, will consumers really be confused by MetaBirkin, or will Hermès customers be confused by defendant’s work?”
Hermès sued Rothschild in January 2022 after he announced the Birkin-based NFT collection “MetaBirkins”. Rothschild is “plagiarizing credit in Hermès’ famous intellectual property to create and sell his own line of products,” it said, potentially causing confusion for customers.
Artist Concerns Continue to Fight
Rothschild argued that the project was simply art that offered a broad interpretation of the fashion industry, and artistic expression is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
After a year of fighting alleged trademark infringement, the Hermès v. Meta Birkin case began trial on January 30. Hermès and Rothschild each brought in trademark law and NFT experts to make claims focused on customer confusion and brand infringement.
In closing arguments on Wednesday, Hermès attorney Oren Warshavsky said Rothschild’s MetaBirkin NFT not only misled consumers into believing the two brands were related, but also claimed that the NFT collection He again claimed that he had infringed on the Hermès brand by using the Birkin name.
Take nine people off the street right now and ask them to tell you what art is but the kicker is whatever they say will now become the undisputed truth.
A multibillion dollar luxury fashion house who says they “care” about art and artists but..
—Mason Rothschild (@MasonRothschild) February 8, 2023
After the verdict, Rothschild said of the case’s impact on creativity and intellectual property: “Now take nine people out of the street and ask them what art is. Unexpectedly. , what the nine say becomes the indisputable truth,” he tweeted.
“What happened today is wrong. If we don’t keep fighting, what happened today will continue to happen. It’s not over yet.”
｜Translation: coindesk JAPAN
｜Editing: Takayuki Masuda
| Image: CoinDesk TV
｜Original: Hermès Wins Trademark Lawsuit Against MetaBirkins NFTs, Setting Powerful Precedent for NFT Creators