Landmark victory: Hermes secures permanent ban on ‘MetaBirkin’ NFT sales in US lawsuit


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  • On Friday, a federal judge in Manhattan sided with Hermes and temporarily halted the sale of “MetaBirkin” non-fungible tokens by artist Mason Rothschild after a jury found that the tokens infringed on the French luxury brand’s trademark rights in its signature Birkin bag in the U.S.
  • Rothschild (real name Sonny Estival) defended his art by arguing that it was an absurdist statement on luxury items and hence protected by the 1st Amendment.
  • According to Rothschild in court, Hermes’ request was “far beyond what is appropriate in a case, like this one, that involves artistic expression.” 

On Friday, a federal judge in Manhattan accepted Hermes’ plea to permanently halt artist Mason Rothschild’s sales of “MetaBirkin” non-fungible tokens after a jury found that they infringed upon the French luxury brand’s trademark rights in its well-known Birkin handbags.

Federal judge injuncts MetaBirkin NFT sales

According to US District Judge Jed Rakoff, the permanent injunction was necessary because Rothschild’s ongoing promotion of the NFTs would probably confuse consumers and irrevocably injure the company.

Rothschild asked Rakoff to overturn the decision or order a new trial, but he refused.

According to Rakoff, the defendant’s strategy’s entire goal was to trick consumers into thinking that Hermes was promoting the lucrative MetaBirkins NFTs by using variations on Hermes’ trademarks. 

As per the court, nothing in the First Amendment shields him from responsibility for such a scheme.

Representatives of Hermes and Rothschild did not immediately respond to requests for comments regarding the decision. 

The ‘MetaBirkin’ debate and NFTs’ ascent

Tokens that can’t be exchanged with anybody else are called non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and they’re utilized on blockchains to prove ownership of digital artwork. Hermes sued Rothschild because his MetaBirkins NFTs mocked the luxury brand’s Birkin bags by depicting them with fake fur in bright colours. 

On blockchain networks, NFTs are distinctive tokens that are frequently used to confirm ownership of digital art. Hermes filed a lawsuit against Rothschild last year over his MetaBirkins, 100 NFTs linked to pictures of the coveted Birkin handbags from the high-end brand covered in vibrant fur.

Hermes referred to Rothschild as a “digital speculator” and the NFTs as a “get rich quick” scheme that violated the rights to its “Birkin” trademark and gave a false impression that the fashion house supported the tokens.

Hermes said that the NFTs made it look like they endorsed the products when they didn’t. On the other hand, Rothschild maintained that his creations were an expression of free speech because they were absurdist statements about luxury goods.

Rothschild, whose real name is Sonny Estival, defended his works by claiming they were absurdist statements on luxury goods. This defence was supported by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which shields work that makes artistically relevant use of trademarks without intentionally misleading consumers from liability in trademark infringement lawsuits. 

In February, the jury awarded Hermes $133,000 in damages. In a March filing, Hermes claimed that Rothschild kept selling his NFTs even after the verdict. It pleaded with the court to order him to stop and hand over any remaining tokens and profits he had made.

According to Rothschild in court, Hermes’ request was “far beyond what is appropriate in a case, like this one, that involves artistic expression.” 

Rakoff largely granted Hermes’ request but chose not to direct Rothschild to transfer the tokens due to an “abundance of caution” regarding First Amendment issues. 

Implications for the luxury market and the art market

The luxury goods industry, the art market, and the growth of NFTs will all be profoundly impacted by the outcome of the Hermes v. ‘MetaBirkin’ NFT case. This emphasizes the importance of IP protection in the digital age and makes it crystal clear that luxury brands will not tolerate the unauthorized use of their trademarked designs. This major win will aid in enforcing trademarks and protecting authentic products from counterfeit NFTs in the digital sphere for other luxury brands.

Hermes’ crushing victory in the ‘MetaBirkin’ NFT lawsuit marks a watershed moment in the ongoing struggle to protect intellectual property rights in the burgeoning field of NFTs. By successfully suing for a permanent injunction to prevent the distribution of the infringing digital assets, Hermes has proven itself to be a staunch protector of the quality and exclusivity of its name.

Those engaging in the illegal reproduction of luxury goods in the digital space should take this decision as a wake-up call, as the court has reaffirmed the importance of trademark rights and opened the door for future legal battles over the protection of luxury brands in the age of NFTs.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Florence Muchai

Florence is a crypto enthusiast and writer who loves to travel. As a digital nomad, she explores the transformative power of blockchain technology. Her writing reflects the limitless possibilities for humanity to connect and grow.

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