Hermès Request to Halt All ‘MetaBirkin’ NFT Sales was Granted by US Judge

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Key takeaways:

  • The US judge has permanently banned all “MetaBirkin” NFT sales, giving French luxury fashion giant Hermès another victory.
  • Rothschild reportedly made more than $1 million from the initiative.

The US judge has permanently banned all sales of “MetaBirkin” nonfungible tokens (NFTs), giving French luxury fashion giant Hermès another victory in its lawsuit for trademark infringement against artist Mason Rothschild.

Hermès first requested that all sales of the MetaBirkin NFTs be stopped in March in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

On June 23, US Judge Jed Rakoff of Manhattan formally approved the request. He also expressed skepticism about Rothschild’s legal defense against Hermès’ lawsuit and questioned Rothchild’s continuous promotion of the initiative. Rakoff continued by saying:

“defendant’s entire scheme here was to defraud consumers into believing, by his use of variations on Hermes’ trademarks, that Hermes was endorsing his lucrative MetaBirkins NFTs, “

The 100 NFT pieces that make up the MetaBirkin collection feature furry Birkin-style handbags, and Rothschild reportedly made more than $1 million from the initiative. Hermès charged Rothschild’s NFT line with fraudulently exploiting its Birkin trademark in January, giving consumers the impression that the company was endorsing the initiative.

After a nine-member jury found Rothschild violating the Hermès trademark in February, the judge ordered the artist to pay $133,000 in damages. Similar to how Andy Warhol was able to create and market artwork using Campbell’s soup cans, Rothschild maintained that his initiative was an artistic expression protected by the First Amendment.

Additionally, the artist said that by including disclaimers stating that Hermès was not affiliated, he had not purposefully deceived customers. Nevertheless, The use of the name “Birkins” was contested, and the judge and jury disagreed. 

In the ongoing fight to defend intellectual property rights in the developing field of NFTs, Hermès’ devastating victory in the “MetaBirkin” NFT litigation represents a significant turning point. The court has reinforced the significance of trademark rights and opened the way for future legal battles over the protection of luxury brands in the age of NFTs. Those involved in illegally replicating luxury goods in the digital sphere should view this judgment as a wake-up call.

Yuga Labs was declared the rightful owner of the BAYC trademarks by the US District Court for the Northern District of California earlier in April. The judgment determined that neither the Rogers Test nor fair use applied to the defendant’s use of the BAYC marks.

Recently, a British hacker named Joseph O’Connor, better known online as PlugwalkJoe, was sentenced to five years in jail in the US for his involvement in the April 2019 SIM swap attack that resulted in the theft of cryptocurrency valued at $794,000. After serving the first 28 months of his sentence, there are just under three more years to go. 

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