Damages of at least US$1.6 million awarded by the US District Court in the ‘Bored Ape Yacht Club’ litigation

In May 2023 we reported on the IP infringement decision of the Californian District Court, in relation to the dispute between the creators of the Bored Aped Yacht Club (BAYC) non-fungible token (NFT) collection, Yuga Labs, and the 'artists' Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen.  In that decision, the Court found against the defendants and, on 25 October 2023, the order for damages was handed down.  This blog post looks at the recent damages decisions and its implications.  (For a refresher on NFTs, you can consult our series here.) As background, the defendants created an NFT collection called the Ryder Ripps BAYC (RR BAYC) collection, which essentially copied the iconic ape images from the Yuga Labs' BAYC collection.  The defendants' alleged that this was for the purposes of commentary on Yuga Labs and the BAYC NFTs.  The Court found against the defendants on the claims of false designation of origin and cyber-squatting (in relation to certain domain names used by the defendants).  It also dismissed the defendants' First Amendment / Rogers defence because no artistic expression was at issue, finding that "As Yuga has pointed out, and the Court agrees, Defendants’ sale of RR/BAYC NFTs is no more artistic than the sale of a counterfeit handbag". Read more

Talking Shop: A consumer sector podcast series: Episode 5 – Why NFTs; why now?

Josh Todd, Giulia Maienza and George McCubbin join Aoife Xuereb to discuss the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) marketplace in the consumer sector – from fine wine and fashion to enhancing the customer experience. They explain how types of marketplaces work, whether that be trading NFT-linked physical products or digital assets in the real world or the metaverse. Commercial legal considerations include IP, … Read more

Remedies for IP infringement by NFTs – the MetaBirkins case continues

The US District Judge has now handed down its opinion and order (23 June 2023) on a number of post-trial motions sought by the parties in the "MetaBirkin" case and these provide some interesting insights into how courts may approach the question of remedies in non-fungible tokens (NFT) related cases. The motions for additional remedies (including the transfer of social media accounts and domain names, as well as the transfer of the NFTs and accounting for further income received via the NFTs) followed the Manhattan jury's decision in February 2023 to award Hermès US$133,000 in damages. Read more

Bored Ape Yacht Club unregistered trade marks effective against copycat NFTs in Californian summary judgment

In a significant decision for NFT content owners worldwide, the producers of the Bored Aped Yacht Club NFT collection, Yuga, have successfully used unregistered trade mark rights and claims of false designation of origin under the US Lanham Act  (as well as domain name squatting claims) to obtain a summary judgment against individual defendants who had created an NFT collection pointing to, that is, reusing, Yuga's Bored Ape Yacht Club images. Read more about these decisions and NFTs in general in our series The IP in NFTs. Read more

Trade mark protection in virtual worlds/the metaverse – IP offices respond with new classes for registration of virtual goods/NFTs as trade marks and the EUIPO deals with “metaverse” marks

The new version of the Nice Classification, the 12th edition, carries new categories for registration of trade marks in relation to NFTs and is being used by several national trade mark offices including the EUIPO and IP Australia. Read more to discover the approach being taken there and in the UK to marks in the metaverse? Read more

NFT infringes trade mark rights – Italian Court grants preliminary injunction in Juventus case

The IP Division of the Court of Rome has issued a preliminary injunction to prohibit the minting and marketing of Non-Fungible-Tokens ("NFT") that, unauthorised, reproduced well-known trade marks owned by the Juventus football club. While various cases related to NFTs and intellectual property rights are pending before the US courts, this is the first time that a court in Europe has found an NFT to be infringing IP rights, setting a useful precedent for brand owners seeking to protect their trade marks in the new era of the metaverse. Read more