A creator of a controversial nonfungible token (NFT) initiative led by Ryder Ripps has reached a settlement with Yuga Labs.
Following the settlement, Thomas Lehman released a statement in which he rejected the allegations made by Ripps’ RR/BAYC. Thomas Lehman is the developer in charge of creating new NFTs utilizing URLs included in Bored Ape Yacht Club smart contracts.
Lehman said in a statement that he is pleased to have settled the Yuga Labs, Inc. v. Lehman trademark action. Adding that he never intended to damage Yuga Labs’ reputation. Lehman also rejected any negative remarks about Yuga Labs and its founders and confessed that he values what they have given to the NFT industry.
Lehman was sued by the company behind the blue-chip collection in January for his participation in and technical assistance with the collection of mimic monkeys.
Lehman allegedly helped Ripps and Jeremy Cahen create and market the NFTs on social media. Regarding the two collections, it was said that this was a “deliberate effort to hurt Yuga Labs at the expense of consumers by sowing uncertainty.”
According to Law360, Yuga Labs and Lehman reached an agreement on a permanent injunction prohibiting Lehman from using any BAYC artwork that is “confusingly similar” or running any social media accounts that imply affiliation with the company.
Yuga lab’s reaction to the settlement
Yuga responded to Law360, stating,
“Yuga Labs believes that creators, especially those in the nascent web3 space, must be able to rely on the law to protect their work against IP theft…We are pleased that Mr. Lehman acknowledged his role in assisting former cohorts, Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen, to infringe on Yuga Labs’ trademarks in developing, marketing, and selling counterfeit NFTs.”
The yuga spokesperson also added that the company respects Mr. Lehman’s rejection of Mr. Ripps’ and Mr. Cahen’s acts and looks forward to holding them accountable for their infringement, which was supported by a campaign of cruel and false lies.
Shortly after the settlement was announced, Ripps, one of the co-creators of RR/BAYC, posted on Twitter. Ripps mocked pop artist Andy Warhol’s well-known representations of Campbell’s soup cans, which may be interpreted as a subtle criticism of the settlement.
Regarding the usage of images from the BAYC collection by Ripps, however, there are various active legal proceedings. Additionally, Jeremy Cahen has been accused of replicating Yuga’s products and selling them on similar platforms.
Ripps and Cahen lawsuit
In a lawsuit filed against Ripps and Cahen in June, Yuga claimed that the artists were trolling Yuga Labs and tricking consumers into buying their knockoffs. Ripps allegedly earned more than $5 million through “pump and dump” fraudulent NFTs, according to the complaint.
In contrast, Ripps contends that his activity was a part of a larger conceptual art practice that uses what is known as “appropriation,” such as Marcel Duchamp’s urinal, and that, as a result, it is a form of artistic expression that is entitled to protection.
By citing Rogers v. Grimaldi as precedent and arguing that RR/BAYC was entitled to nominative fair use protection, Ripps’ attorneys asked the court in October 2022 to dismiss the BAYC trademark litigation. However, the court dismissed their request in December.
The law firm Rosen, which represents investors’ rights, reaffirmed on January 30 that those who bought Yuga’s BAYC NFTs or its native token ApeCoin (APE), might join a securities class-action lawsuit against the company.