Hersterian NFT maker wins U.S. court case against artist

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Hersterian NFT maker wins U.S. court case against artist

A U.S. court has sided with French luxury fashion house Hermes and granted a permanent injunction against the métaBirkin NFT collection for infringements of copyright.

On June 23, a nine-member civil jury delivered a unanimous verdict against the MetaBirkins creator, Sonny Estival, also known as Mason Rothschild.

Rothschild created MetaBirkins, a collection of 100 NFTs that depict furry handbags in the style of Hermes' Birkin bags. The collection is estimated to have led to more than $1 million in trades.

Judge Jed Rakoff offered a skeptical appraisal of Rothschild's defense of the suit, asserting that the NFTs are an absurdist parody of luxury goods and, as such, constitute free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Rothschild will not be able to sell, market, or mint MetaBirkins NFTs, and requires control over the Metabirkins.com domain name to be transferred to Hermes. Judge Rakoff's request for the court to dismiss Rothschild's case did not come to fruition.

The case could mark a significant precedent for future lawsuits regarding alleged patent infringement in a web3 context. Nike filed a lawsuit in February 2022 against StockX, a shoe reseller, alleging that its NFTs are unauthorized recreations of its sneakers.

The dispute over MetaBirkins started in January when Hermes accused Rothschild of misusing its Birkin mark to mislead customers into believing the company supported the project. Hermes filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The court found Rothschild violated Hermes' patent and ordered the artist to pay $133,000 in damages. Hermes, who asked for an injunction in March, accused Rothschild of continuing to promote the sale of MetaBirkins NFTs to generate royalties.