The case between famous French brand Hermes and digital artist Mason Rothschild goes ahead in Manhattan as the company accuses Mason of trademark infringement by creating an NFT collection concerning the iconic Birkin bag.
Mason’s date with the prosecution
Manhattan federal court set January 30 as the date for hearing the infringement case where Mason is accused of releasing Metabirkins NFT collection into the market. The French luxury brand claims Mason created the Metabirkins NFT collection using the inspiration of its Birkin bag features and went ahead to promote and sell the collection. The company accuses the digital artist of trademark flouting.
Hermes filed the case on January 14, 2022, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging the artist had declined to honor their request to stop selling the NFT collection.
The weight of the case
Court documents filed by Hermes on January 23 argue that the Metabirkins NFT collection utilized the Birkin trademark inappropriately and caused confusion to the customers creating an impression that the brand was in support of the collection.
On the other hand, the defense documents filed in the court claim that Mason Rothschild’s project enjoys the protection of the First Amendment, which provides citizens to have unlimited freedom of expression. Rothschild added that the 100 NFTs released in the market give the consumers a platform to comment on high-valued goods.
Debate among the learned friends
Lawyers and intellectual property experts gave their opinion on the trial. Some have indicated the case would impact the NFT sector.
An outspoken lawyer named Laura Lamansky openly discussed the trial and its repercussions on the NFT sector. On a Lexology post on January 18, the lawyer proclaimed the case presents an interesting turn of events on digital assets and Web3.
In a continuation of the post, she wondered about the extent to which trademarks in the real-world trade environment impact the digital world. She noted that the case would provide leeway to implement trademark rights in the digital scope.
Lamansky also expressed her enthusiasm to know how the court will interpret the First Amendment about consumer goods, considering that brands or companies have the right to trademarks. The court will also set precedence on the impact of trademarks in the digital space.
Companies on the watch out for infringements by NFT projects
On December 28 last year, a digital artist accused Manchester United of copyright infringement after the club released its NFT collection. Lucréce, the digital artist, alluded that NFTs released by the prestigious premier league club had similarities with his works. Although the digital artist did not claim that the NFTs presented by the club were his, he indicated that the discussion was on with Tezos to unravel the matter.
There was a legal tussle between the Pokemon Company and Kotiota studios in December 2022. The Pokemon company accused Kotiota studios of trademark infringement. The studios were accused of using the official fictional characters to advertise their PokeWorld NFT game.