Yuga Labs Co-Founders set to be deposed
The latest ruling in the ongoing trademark infringement lawsuit between Yuga Labs and the internet artist Ryder Ripps states that Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano must step down, after allegations that Bored Apes Yacht Club (BAYC) NFTs contained latent racist and pro-Nazi imagery.
The court war between Yuga Labs and Ryder Ripps picks up the pace
A federal judge ruled that the co-founders of Yuga Labs, Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano, must be deposed in the ongoing trademark infringement lawsuit between Yuga Labs and the internet artist Ryder Ripps.
This decision is the most recent chapter in a story that started in early 2022 when Ripps spread accusations that BAYC NFTs contained latent, deliberate, and pro-Nazi imagery. The alleged accusations against BAYC started when Phillion, another relevant persona within the web3 industry, released an hour-long video exposing why Yuga Labs’ branding resembles and is inspired by Nazi symbols. As a form of protest and to raise awareness, Ripps sold a copycat collection of 10,000 Apes back in May, which led to a Yuga Labs lawsuit against him.
This recent news represents yet another blow in the Yuga Labs team’s heart, when they are about to celebrate their 1-year anniversary, and closed 2022 as one of the top NFT collections.
The lawsuit backfires
In the months after Yuga Labs filed the lawsuit for trademark infringement against Ryder Ripps, Yuga has since tried silencing a vocal critic making incendiary claims while not giving him more ammunition.
The company’s legal strategy was to sue Ripps exclusively for trademark infringement, rather than copyright infringement or defamation, in order to prevent Ripps from turning the case into a referendum on the duplicability of NFTs or a showcase for his inflammatory allegations. Nevertheless, recent developments may have put the company on a path toward sensationalism.
Yuga attempted to prevent Ripps’ counsel from deposing its co-founders, Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano, by arguing that they were “apex witnesses” and thus exempt from deposition. This argument was denied by the court, which labeled it as “deficient on the merits” and found that only Yuga’s co-founders could speak on the origins of the Bored Ape mark.
The judge in charge of the case also reprimanded Yuga for its lack of diligence, pointing out the business’s repeated refusals to reply to Ripps’ counsel’s inquiries about arranging depositions.
Now that Yuga’s leadership is being questioned, Ripps and his legal team can do so under oath. Ripps alleges that a web of satirical, alt-right, neo-Nazi, and racist allusions formed the basis of the company, including its logos, imagery, and name. Although Yuga has refuted these allegations, Ripps and his team now have the opportunity to question Aronow and others under penalty of perjury.
Although it is unclear how this development will impact the lawsuit’s conclusion, it adds a whole new level of scrutiny for Yuga and its leadership. This case emphasizes the value of trademark protection and the potential legal repercussions for those who breach it, as the NFT industry continues to expand and change.