Hermès Wins Lawsuit Against Artist Who Created ‘MetaBirkins’ NFTs
The French fashion house Hermès has won a trademark violation lawsuit against an artist who designed non-fungible token (NFT) versions of the brand’s popular Birkin bags.
On Wednesday, a New York jury ruled that artist Mason Rothschild violated the trademark rights of Hermès by selling pictures of furry, copycat purses dubbed “MetaBirkins” as NFTs, The Guardian reported. The fashion retailer argued the NFTs, which were sold for over $1 million, would confuse consumers into thinking they were affiliated with Hermès.
The French luxury brand was awarded $133,000 in damages for trademark infringement, dilution, and cybersquatting, a violation that involves registering or using a brand’s trademark in bad faith. The jury didn’t agree that Rothschild’s “MetaBirkins” constituted a protected form of speech under the First Amendment.
Rothschild, real name Sonny Estival, argued his case by comparing his “MetaBirkins” to Andy Warhol’s portrayal of giant Campbell’s soup cans in his famous pop culture silk screens. The artist believed his NFTs served as a mockery of the excesses of the luxury fashion world.
“I’m not creating or selling fake Birkin bags. I’m creating artworks that depict imaginary, fur-covered Birkin bags,” Rothschild wrote in a letter in response to the lawsuit.
But the Hermès brand said the NFTs were created by “a digital speculator who is seeking to get rich quick by appropriating.”
“Metabirkins brand simply rips off Hermès’ famous Birkin trademark by adding the generic prefix ‘meta’” Hermès stated in a complaint filed in January 2022.
View this post on Instagram
Rothschild’s attorney Rhett Millsaps called the verdict a “terrible day for artists and the First Amendment.”
Hermes’ luxury leather Birkin handbags typically retail for tens of thousands of dollars apiece, CNN reported. Court documents revealed that more than $1 billion worth of Birkins have been sold in the United States alone, including more than $100 million worth in the past 10 years.