USA : The American artist Mason Rothschild condemned for NFT of Hermès bags

(AFP) The American artist Mason Rothschild was sentenced Wednesday by a New York jury to pay 133,000 dollars in damages to the company Hermes for having created on the Internet, and sold, virtual bags in the form of NFT, without authorization of the saddler and leather goods manufacturer.

 

The decision, handed down by a federal court in New York and cited by several U.S. media outlets, was highly anticipated as it was expected to set a milestone in the debate over intellectual property in the world of NFTs. Popularized in early 2021, NFTs are certificates of authenticity associated with a computer file that can be an image, a text or a piece of music. They are supposed to allow the traceability of the ownership of a virtual object.

 

Multi-media artist, the Californian Mason Rothschild -from his real name Sonny Estival- had created in 2021 a series of images in the form of NFT, named MetaBirkins, which represented handbags inspired by the famous model launched by Hermes in 1984. These MetaBirkins, made without the permission of Hermes, were intended to be “a tribute to Hermes’ most famous bag, the Birkin,” according to the presentation of the NFTs on the internet.

 

1.1 million dollars

 

The sale of these images brought in more than $1.1 million, according to documents produced by Hermes in the lawsuit. Some of these NFTs are still available for resale on a specialized platform, at prices ranging from 5,000 to 165,000 dollars.

 

Hermes had filed a lawsuit in the United States in January 2022, arguing that Mason Rothschild “(had) infringed” and “(continued) to infringe” on the brand’s intellectual property and threatened to continue to do so, by making and selling the MetaBirkins. The misuse, and without the consent of the company, the trademarks Birkin and Hermes “(was) likely to cause confusion and misinterpretation in the minds of buyers,” said the Parisian house.

 

The artist had argued that his creations fell under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of expression. But the jury found that the NFTs did not fall under the First Amendment.

 

It’s a great day for big brands,” but “terrible for artists and the First Amendment,“Rhett Millsaps, one of Mason Rothschild’s lawyers, reacted to AFP. Hermes” acted to protect consumers and the integrity of its brand,” commented a spokeswoman for the saddler and leather goods manufacturer.

 

 

Read also > NFTs: Hermès lawsuit against artist Mason Rothschild is imminent

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Thanks to its extensive knowledge of these sectors, the Luxus + editorial team deciphers for its readers the main economic and technological stakes in fashion, watchmaking, jewelry, gastronomy, perfumes and cosmetics, hotels, and prestigious real estate.

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