Hermès has won its lawsuit against artist Mason Rothschild for creating “MetaBirkin” non-fungible tokens (NFTs) without authorization.
A Manhattan jury found that Rothschild’s NFTs violated the Birkin bag maker’s intellectual property rights. The jury awarded Hermès $133,000 in damages for trademark infringement, brand dilution, and cybersquatting.
The NFT-focused lawsuit, one of the first of its kind, was filed by Hermès for sales of 100 NFTs depicting pictures of Hermès bags covered in colorful fur.
In the lawsuit, Hermès accused Rothschild of being a “digital speculator” using NFTs as a “get rich quick” scheme. According to Hermès, Rothschild began selling MetaBirkin NFTs at the Art Basel art fair in Miami in December 2021, and more than a million dollars worth of them had been traded in just over a month. His move hindered the brand’s own NFT efforts, Hermès alleged.
Rothschild, however, argued that his work is immune from lawsuits as the First Amendment protections for art shield it. Furthermore, his NFTs are really meant to serve as an absurdist statement on luxury products, according to Reuters.
His attorney, Rhett Millsaps, called the lawsuit’s outcome a “terrible day for artists and the First Amendment.”
The case was being closely watched as it is indicative of how trademark laws will apply to NFTs.