Yuga Labs reaches a copyright consensus with Thomas Lehman
On 6th Feb 2023, Yuga Labs settled the Bored Ape NFTs trademark lawsuit against Thomas Lehman, who built products for RR/BAYC.
BAYC, Ryder Ripp’s project, was running websites and smart contracts sourced from the 10,000 NFT tokens sharing the same features, names, and characteristics of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs by Yuga Labs.
Yuga Labs filed the complaint against Thomas Lehman on 20th Jan 2023 and focused on how he coded and developed RR/BAYC RSVP contract and the website (rrbayc.com) to sell duplicated NFTs.
The settlement terms included limiting Lehman from using “in any manner any BAYC Mark,” destroying “any materials in his possession or control publicly displaying the BAYC Marks,” and destructing any RR/BAYC NFT in his possession.
Lehman stated that he is happy that his lawsuit against Yuga Labs has been resolved amicably in the Northern District of New York court. He also said that he had no intention of ruining Yuga Lab’s brand and rejected all insulting statements made towards the Yuga Labs fraternity. Lehman also appreciated the positive contributions that Yuga Labs has brought to the NFT industry.
A Yuga Labs spokesperson expressed the firm’s satisfaction as Lehman acknowledged his role in assisting Jeremy Cahen and Ryder Ripps to create, market, and trade counterfeit NFTs and infringe Yuga Labs’ brand.
Yuga Labs is in a lawsuit with Ryder Ripps over a project that Yuga claims is a case of intellectual property theft. Ryder Ripps filed an anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (anti-SLAPP) motion indicating that his work is protected by free speech as a work of satire. However, the law court denied Ripps of his motion in Dec 2022, but Ripps’ team filed an appeal and counterclaims against Yuga Labs.
Reflections of a copyright and IP lawyer
Jeremy Goldman, copyright and IP lawyer, addressed the case through Yuga Labs, demystifying information around NFTs and their associated NFTs.
Some of his sentiments included, Yuga owns all copyright of all their work, even if a piece of art is reproduced without copyright commissions. Although copyright requires human authorship, most digital art, including what BAYC claims, involved using a script designed initially by Yuga ,as the artist developed every bit through their imagination and computers.
He also added that, Yuga has a copyright to convey different rights to digital artwork owners, including the ownership of the NFTs and a broad license to exploit the digital artwork. Owning a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT is the equivalent of owning the physical object of the artwork. Owning the NFT gives you the right to sell and display it.
Although Yuga grants ownership of the NFT to the user, the company does not transfer the copyright ownership. The CryptoPunks license dictates that the NFT owner has the IP license but not the copyright license.