Hermès Files Suit Against Mason Rothschild After He Released His Metabirkins NFT Collection
Luxury brand Hermès filed a suit against digital artist Mason Rothschild after the artist released his Metabirkins nonfungible token (NFT) collection depicting the company’s Birkin bag product without permission.
It has been reported that the trial and its related lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York can be traced back to January 14, 2022, when Hermès filed a complaint against Mason Rothschild after the artist allegedly refused to stop selling his NFT collection.
However, according to court documents filed on January 23, Hermès argues the collection has improperly used the Birkin trademark and potentially confused customers into believing the luxury brand supports the project.
The report said that the court docs also reveal Rothschild believes his work is protected under the First Amendment, which allows for no limits on free expression. A number of intellectual property lawyers and legal experts have commented in the days coming up to the trial, noting the case could have implications for the NFT industry.
Laura Lamansky, an associate with law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, called the case a “momentous turning point for Web3 and digital goods” in a January 18 post discussing the trial and its possible implications for the future of the NFT industry.
“The question remains: To what extent are real-world trademarks enforceable in the digital world? We’ll be watching this case closely to determine how best to bolster rights in the digital sphere. It will hopefully shed some light on how artwork and the First Amendment interact with consumer goods and NFTs and how far a brand’s rights in its trademarks or products extend in the digital space.”
Likewise, blockchain and tech lawyer Michael Kasdan has also been following the case, but he does not appear to think the result will be overly significant.
“In the end it’s just going to be one district court case data point but definitely an interesting one.”
Brands and companies have begun to crack down on NFT projects which they claim violate copyright, intellectual property and trademarks. On February 4, 2022, Nike filed a lawsuit against StockX for trademark infringement as the online reseller allegedly created NFTs in the likeness of Nike’s sneakers.
Thus, in September 2022, film director Quentin Tarantino settled a Miramax lawsuit after base-layer blockchain provider, Secret Network, announced the auction of “uncut screenplay scenes” from Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction as NFTs.