A highly anticipated legal battle between French luxury brand Hermes and digital artist Mason Rothschild is set to commence in a Manhattan federal court on January 30th. The trial, which has garnered attention from legal experts and IP lawyers, will determine the outcome of a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Hermes against Rothschild.
Hermes Accuses Rothschild of Trademark Infringement
Hermes alleges that Rothschild’s NFT collection, MetaBirkins, infringes on the brand’s Birkin trademark. The luxury company argues that the collection improperly uses the Birkin trademark, which could lead to customer confusion and suggest that Hermes supports the project. The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on January 14th, 2022, came after Rothschild refused to stop promoting and selling his NFT collection.
Rothschild Claims First Amendment Protection
In court documents filed on January 23rd, Rothschild states that his work is protected under the First Amendment, which allows for unlimited freedom of expression. The outcome of the trial has the potential to set a significant precedent for the NFT industry and the extent to which real-world trademarks are enforceable in the digital world. Legal experts believe that the trial will provide insight into 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.
Implications for NFT Industry
The trial has been dubbed a “momentous turning point for Web3 and digital goods” by Laura Lamansky, an associate at law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP. Brands and companies have begun to take legal action against NFT projects that violate copyrights, intellectual property, and trademarks. For instance, in February 2022, Nike filed a lawsuit against StockX for trademark infringement over NFTs created in the likeness of Nike sneakers. In September 2022, film director Quentin Tarantino had to settle a Miramax lawsuit after Secret Network announced the auction of uncut screenplay scenes from Pulp Fiction as NFTs.
Blockchain and tech lawyer Michael Kasdan has been following the case, but he does not think the outcome will be overly significant. “In the end, it’s just going to be one district court case data point but definitely an interesting one,” he said.
The trademark infringement trial between Hermes and Rothschild promises to be a landmark event in the NFT industry. Legal experts are eager to see how the court will determine the extent to which real-world trademarks are enforceable in the digital world and what implications this will have for the industry. The outcome of the trial will provide valuable insights into the future of NFTs and the role of trademarks in the digital space.