Yuga Labs, the parent company of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT project, has reached a settlement with Thomas Lehman, who built websites and smart contracts for Ryder Ripp’s copycat project “RR/BAYC.” Ripps’ project is a series of 10,000 non-fungible tokens (NFT) that share the same names, features and traits as the famous Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs and is part of a separate, ongoing court case around trademark infringement.
The complaint against Thomas Lehman was filed on Jan. 20, 2023, and focused on his role in coding and developing the “RRBAYC RSVP Contract,” and “rrbayc.com” site to sell the copycat NFTs. Terms of the settlement include barring Lehman from using "any manner any BAYC Mark," destroying "any materials in his possession or control publicly displaying the BAYC Marks" and burning any RR/BAYC NFT he owns.
“I am happy to have resolved the Yuga Labs, Inc. v. Lehman trademark lawsuit in the [U.S. District Court] Northern District of New York,” Lehman said in a statement provided to CoinDesk. “It was never my intention to harm Yuga Labs’ brand, and I reject all disparaging statements made about Yuga Labs and its founders and appreciate their many positive contributions to the NFT space.”
A Yuga Labs spokesperson told CoinDesk that they “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.”
Yuga Labs is involved in an ongoing suit with Ryder Ripps over his project, which Yuga claims is a clear case of intellectual property (IP) infringement. In October 2022, Ripps filed an anti-SLAPP motion arguing his project is protected by free speech as a work of satire. The motion was denied in December 2022, but it was appealed by Ripps’ team, who also filed counterclaims against Yuga Labs.
The ongoing case has brought a focus to IP and trademark rights within the NFT space. Yuga Labs told CoinDesk it 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.”
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