In a high-stakes legal battle, fashion company Hermès has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against MetaBirkin in a Manhattan court.
NFTs have been in the news lately for their unprecedentedly high prices and growing numbers of collectors. On Monday the 30th of January 2023, the courts are being asked to decide on the legality of a dispute between luxury goods purveyor Hermès and MetaBirkin, a digital artist who has been creating digital versions of Birkin bags, an iconic handbag from the French fashion house. The dispute centers on the legality of MetaBirkin’s actions of using the Hermès Birkin™ and Kelly™ Bag trademarks to create digital artworks and then offering these digital works for sale as NFTs. Hermès took legal action because they feared that the images of MetaBirkin would give customers the impression that they were selling actual Birkin bags, which is not the case. Furthermore, Hermès is worried that MetaBirkin’s work could affect the value of their brand and trademark due to the wide reach of the internet since consumers might be under the impression that they own an authentic Hermès product instead of a digital representation of it.
Hermès is asking the court to issue two orders. First, they are seeking an injunction that prohibits MetaBirkin from using their trademarks to create works of art to be offered for sale as digital assets. Second, Hermès is also seeking an order for damages, as they believe that MetaBirkin’s actions have caused them harm, both financially and by diluting the value of their brand and trademark. The legal implications of this litigation are not yet foreseeable, and the outcome of the case could have a significant impact on the art world. As it stands, the sale of NFTs, and the sale and use of trademarks in more traditional media, may be affected if antitrust regulations are enforced. This case will serve as a test of the legal parameters of IP law in the NFT space and the impact of blockchain technology on traditional business models.
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