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Chamber of Digital Commerce Backs Hermés in Landmark “MetaBirkins” Case

The Chamber of Digital Commerce (CDC), a leading trade association focusing on blockchain and digital assets, submitted an amicus curiae brief on February 9 in solidarity with Hermès, the renowned French design house, amidst its significant MetaBirkins case. Here’s the significance:

Hermès, famed for its iconic Birkin bag, finds itself embroiled in a high-stakes legal dispute that could set a precedent for the application of trademarks to digital assets within the Metaverse and other realms beyond.

“Setting a Precedent For The Entire Digital Economy”

The luxury goods company initiated legal action against artist Mason Rothschild (also known as Sonny Estival) for his creation of “MetaBirkins” – non-fungible tokens (NFTs) portraying Birkin bags, which Rothschild managed to sell for significant sums, often tens of thousands of dollars.

A statement from the Chamber of Digital Commerce emphasized their support for Hermès in this matter: “By standing with Hermès in this case, we are not merely advocating for the rights of one brand. Rather, we are establishing a precedent for the entire digital economy, ensuring that the trademarks that symbolize trust and excellence in the physical world carry the same significance in the digital realm.”

Federal Jury Rules in Favor of Hermès

Hermès secured a victory recently when a federal jury in Manhattan ruled in their favor against Rothschild, finding him guilty of cybersquatting, brand dilution, and infringement of the fashion house’s “Birkin” trademark. As a result, Rothschild has been ordered to compensate the company with $133,000, along with an additional $23,000 for damages incurred due to cybersquatting.

Despite the verdict, Rothschild has expressed his intention to challenge the decision, with his lead counsel, Rhett Millsap, affirming, “This is not the conclusion of this legal battle.”

In response to the ruling, Rothschild stated, “I am not producing or selling counterfeit Birkin bags. My creations are artworks portraying fictional, fur-clad Birkin bags.”

The End Of MetaBirkins?

Rothschild initially contended that his creations were purely artistic expressions, drawing parallels to Andy Warhol’s iconic portrayal of branded imagery, such as Campbell’s soup cans.

However, the recent brief from the CDC counters this argument, emphasizing that “Andy Warhol was not selling soup at a grocery store.”

The brief further highlights Hermès’ right to market its own digital assets, likening it to NFTs offered by other esteemed brands like Tiffany & Co. or the Chicago Bulls. Moreover, the trade association asserts that the established brand identity of Hermès lends value to MetaBirkins.

“It is the identifiable characteristics linked to otherwise anonymous lines of code that enable these digital assets to be traded online, akin to the online trading of physical goods,” the brief elaborates. “The transition to a digital space should not diminish the trademark protection afforded to these products or their respective companies in any way.”

At present, it remains unclear whether an appeal has been filed in response to the ruling.

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