A recent jury ruling in Manhattan has established that Mason Rothschild’s non-fungible token (NFT) versions of Hermes’ Birkin bags have infringed upon the French fashion house’s trademark rights. This case serves as a landmark trial, marking one of the first instances of intellectual property litigation involving digital tokens, such as NFTs, and the possibility of causing confusion among consumers. The jury found in favour of Hermes, awarding the company $133,000 in damages related to trademark infringement, dilution, and cybersquatting, as confirmed by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The attorney representing Rothschild, Rhett, Millsapsexpressed his disappointment at the verdict, declaring it “a terrible day for artists.” Representatives from Hermes did not immediately respond when asked for comment on their victory in the case.
The legal dispute involving trademark law and its applicability to NFTs has captured significant attention. Hermes’ iconic Birkin handbags have experienced tremendous success recently, with sales exceeding $1 billion in the United States alone, a staggering figure that includes more than $100 million earned within a decade. Last year, Hermes took Rothschild to court over his MetaBirkins, 100 individual tokens associated with digital art images depicting their signature leather bags adorned with vivid fur patterns. Hermes’s lawsuit accused Rothschild of exploitative speculation intended solely for quick and easy profit rather than genuine artistic appreciation or advancement. It is alleged that Rothschild began offering these items at Art Basel Miami in December 2021, with sales reportedly surpassing one million dollars by early January 2022.
Rothschild, who operates under the legal name of Sonny Estival, has argued that his works constitute an absurdist commentary on luxury goods and should be protected under First Amendment rights. He maintains that his creations should be exempt from any potential lawsuit due to their artistic nature.