Hermès wins lawsuit against creator of NFT MetaBirkins in a historic legal first

February 8, 2023, 7:31 PM UTC
French luxury brand Hermès won its lawsuit against the creator of NFT lookalikes.
Yui Mok—PA Images via Getty Images

French luxury fashion brand Hermès triumphed in court on Wednesday over the NFT creator of a collection of virtual handbags that it said violated the trademark of their signature Birkin bag.

The case is a first of its kind in deciding how NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are subject to intellectual property law. A nine-person jury in New York decided to that the NFT collection was not protected under the First Amendment, and awarded Hermes $133,000 in total damages, Bloomberg Law reported.

The NFT collection, dubbed MetaBirkins, was created by Mason Rothschild. The 100 NFTs came in several different colors and were covered in fur instead of leather. Some depicted famous paintings like Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The bags were originally sold for $450 but were resold on the secondary market for prices approaching the physical Birkin Bags’ price tag of more than $10,000.

The decision could mean that many Web3 creators may need to tread more carefully with the projects they produce. Companies may also seek to do more to protect their intellectual property when it comes to NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and the metaverse.

This is the first NFT jury decision around intellectual property, but there are other cases in the works. Online marketplace and clothing reseller StockX is entangled in a lawsuit with Nike that involves NFTs. The shoe and apparel giant sued StockX last year because it argued that its NFTs of Nike shoes infringed on the company’s trademark rights.

Some companies have already proactively moved to protect their brands in the metaverse with trademark filings. Hermès has itself been planning to release its own line of NFTs and the company argued during the case that the MetaBirkins collection would harm its prospects, Bloomberg reported.

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