A federal judge has permanently banned a non-fungible token (NFT) maker from selling digital art collectibles fashioned after Hermes’ iconic Birkin bags, closing out a lengthy court saga that has served as a warning to NFT makers.
Judge Jed Rakoff, who presided over the case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordered Rothschild and his associates to abstain from minting or selling MetaBirkins NFTs or using online domains associated with the collection. He also doubled down on a jury’s findings that Mason Rothschild, the collection’s creator, attempted to mislead consumers about his digital art pieces’ connection to Hermes’ luxury bags.
“As the jury expressly found, Rothschild, a self-described ‘marketing strategist,’ purposely sought (with some success) to confuse consumers into believing that his non-fungible tokens (‘NFTs'), labeled ‘MetaBirkins…’ were affiliated with Hermès’ iconic ‘Birkin’ trademarks,” Judge Rakoff wrote in a filing on Friday.
He added, “In effect, the jury found that Rothschild was simply a swindler.”
The judge’s permanent injunction marks the final judgment in the months-long lawsuit. It is possible Rothschild can appeal the ruling, however.
Rothschild’s lawyer declined CoinDesk’s request for comment.
The MetaBirkins NFT collection, a set of 100 digital art collectibles, garnered considerable attention when it dropped in December 2021, generating more than $1 million in sales, Reuters reported.
However, French fashion house Hermès International sued the MetaBirkins NFT creator in January 2022, alleging the California-based artist’s Birkin-inspired collection infringed on its intellectual property rights. In February, a jury sided with the handbag maker, awarding the company $133,000 in damages.
Rothschild’s loss to Hermes serves as a warning to other creators in the underregulated NFT space, where intellectual property infringement isn’t entirely uncommon. In recent months, NFT analytics firm bitsCrunch flagged a popular NFT collection Coodles' use of McDonald’s iconic golden arches logo. And, last year, Nike sued sneaker reseller StockX for selling Unauthorized images of its sneakers as NFTs.
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