Hermes wins lawsuit against 'MetaBirkins,' establishing NFTs aren't protected speech
A court found MetaBirkins NFTs were not protected under the First Amendment, awarding Birkins company Hermes $133,000 in the lawsuit.
A lawsuit may have just set an interesting precedent for business regarding NFTs going forward. Luxury brand company Hermès had taken the creator of an NFT series called “MetaBirkins” to court over copyright law for using images of Hermès-brand Birkin bags to create NFTs without permission from the company. The MetaBirkins NFT creator, Mason Rothschild, attempted to argue that the products should be covered under protected speech by the First Amendment. However, a New York jury disagreed. Not only does Rothschild have to pay Hermès $133,000 in settlement, but it has been established that NFTs are not considered protected speech.
The settlement of the Hermès and MetaBirkins NFT lawsuit came earlier this week, as reported by Bloomberg Law. Hermès filed its lawsuit against Rothschild in early 2022 regarding MetaBirkins, during the time when NFTs were still booming alongside a wealth of other cryptocurrency related businesses and startups. MetaBirkins utilized a multitude of non-existent Birkin bags, minted and sold as digital tokens. In court, Rothschild argued that his work was similar to that of artists such as Andy Warhol and his use of Campbell’s Soup and Coca-Cola products in his art.
“These images, and the NFTs that authenticate them, are not handbags; they carry nothing but meaning,” Rothschild argued.
Hermès argued that Rothschild was not aiming to create a message, but rather aiming to make money illegally off of the Hermès brand.
“[MetaBirkins] simply rips off Hermès’ famous Birkin trademark,” the company said in court. “[Rothschild] is a digital speculator who is seeking to get rich quick by appropriating the brand.”
The Manhattan federal jury handling the court agreed with Hermès in the matter. It marks one of the first court conclusions regarding trademark law and NFTs. Additionally, it establishes that NFTs are not protected speech under the First Amendment.
The results of this case mean a monetary win for Hermès, but may also have a resounding effect on NFTs and cryptocurrency business going forward. Given that both have been in a slump, especially since the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX platform, NFTs and cryptocurrency continue to be dealt financial and legal blows. Stay tuned as we continue to follow for further updates and details.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Hermes wins lawsuit against 'MetaBirkins,' establishing NFTs aren't protected speech