Bored Ape NFTs creator sues artist for copyright infringement under 'satire' pretense

Bored Ape NFTs creator sues artist for copyright infringement under 'satire' pretense

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Yuga Labs, creator for Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, has sued artist Ryder Ripps for selling similar looking NFT's that are confusing potential buyers. According to the lawsuit seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Yuga Labs has accused Ripps for trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and cybersquatting.  Yuga Labs accused Ripps of intentionally causing consumer confusion under the guise of satire, reaping millions in ill-gotten profit, while “celebrating the harm he causes”. Yuga Labs has filed asking for financial damages and a court order demanding he ceases infringing on BAYC’s work, including a ban on using “confusingly similar” domain names such as apemarket.com. 

Ripps’ RR/BAYC NFT series uses Bored Ape Yacht Club images but connects them with a different crypto token, which are then sold for a fraction of how much Bored Ape Yacht Club sells them for.  “It is a deliberate effort to harm Yuga Labs at the expense of consumers by sowing confusion about whether these RR/BAYC NFTs are in some way sponsored, affiliated, or connected to Yuga Labs’ official Bored Ape Yacht Club,” Yuga Labs claimed in the lawsuit. Yuga Labs also added that Ripps made a copycat version of the Bored Ape Yacht Club Twitter account, as well as used misleading labelling and tracking information to make them seem legitimate, causing further confusion.  

However, Ripps said in an email, which was also posted as a screenshot on his Twitter account, that the lawsuit was part of an attempt by Yuga Labs to silence his research on the company.

Moreover, he added that buyers explicitly acknowledged a disclaimer when they purchased RR/BAYS NFTs that they were "a protest against and parody of BAYC". "The lawsuit grossly mischaracterises the RR/BAYC project [...] I believe the greatest purpose of NFT is to establish provenance of digital content which, previous to their advent, was inherently difficult to trace the authorship and origins of,” Ripps added.

In recent times there have been similar lawsuit situations emerging in the NFT space. In January, French luxury group Hermès filed a trademark lawsuit against US digital creator Mason Rothschild and his digital art project, MetaBirkins. According to multiple media reports including The Guardian, the luxury brand is suing Rothschild for creating virtual versions inspired by its Birkin bags.

As seen on Rothschild's Instagram, he creates digital art which is then sold as NFTs and the artworks show furry Birkin bags which he named "MetaBirkins". Hermès accused Rothschild of "trying to profit from its trademarks", adding that the MetaBirkins brand "simply rips off Hermès' famous Birkin trademark by adding the generic prefix 'meta' to the famous trademark Birkin".

Meanwhile, Nike also sued Detroit- based reseller StockX for selling NFTs with unauthorised images of Nike shoes. The brand said that consumers are already questioning whether Nike authorised StockX to sell its infringing NFT products. It added that the Vault NFTs’ "inflated prices and murky terms of purchase and ownership, have already led to public criticism of StockX and allegations that the Vault NFTs are a scam”.

Nike said the StockX’s misappropriation of Nike’s famous trademarks and goodwill to buoy its entry into the lucrative NFT and digital collectible market deprives Nike of its exclusive right to use its marks in connection with this new commercial medium.

Photo courtesy: Shutterstock

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