Recently Hermès filed a lawsuit against Mason Rothschild, the man behind the collection of MetaBirkins NFT (non-fungible tokens). The brand includes images of famous Birkin bags with furry renderings. The complaint was filed in a New York federal court, in which Hermès claimed that Mason Rothschild is,
“A digital speculator who is seeking to get rich quick by appropriating the brand MetaBirkins for use in creating, marketing, selling, and facilitating the exchange of digital assets known as non-fungible tokens"
The company claimed this is an attempt to “rip off Hermès’ famous BIRKIN trademark by adding the generic prefix meta, which only applies to "virtual worlds and economies where digital assets such as NFTs can be sold and traded."
The complaint filed was staged in a 47-page setting, it says that beginning from December 2, 2021, Rothschild has advertised the collection of MetaBirkins in the form of NFTs "using Hermès federally registered trademarks,” and the term it is globally recognized for 'Birkin.' He did so without the permission of the brand and is under violation of its trademark rights.
Hermès stated that the artist Rothschild and the NFT platform OpenSea were notified about the violation of intellectual property on December 16, 2021.
OpenSea removed the collection of Rothschild. However, Mason himself refused to stop selling MetaBirkins NFTs. The label claims that Rothschild is looking to build a market for the resale, trade, and exchange of his MetaBirkins NFTs”
Rothschild refused to cease his bag collection or to sell them on metabirkins.com. He did put up a disclaimer on his website stating:
“We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the HERMÈS, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates. The official HERMÈS website can be found at www.Hermès.com.”
The label claimed that
"The NFT excessively uses the Hermès mark three times, and unnecessarily links to Hermès’ website and capitalizes the Hermès mark, which can create a confusing impression among consumers as to Hermès’ sponsorship of the MetaBirkins NFTs and the MetaBirkins website."
However, Rothschild didn't stop his work and claimed that the First Amendment protects artistic work. The brand pushed back by asserting that such violations are not covered by law:
“Although a digital image connected to an NFT may reflect some artistic creativity, just as a t-shirt or a greeting card may reflect some artistic creativity, the title of ‘artist’ does not confer a license to use an equivalent to the famous BIRKIN trademark in a manner calculated to mislead consumers and undermine the ability of that mark to identify Hermès as the unique source of goods sold under the BIRKIN mark,” claims Hermès.
Rothschild replied to the brand by posting an open letter on his Instagram handle.
Who is Mason Rothschild?
Mason Rothschild is a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary artist and designer. He is currently the creative director of the brand Terminal27. He is also a digit creator as an NFT and a proud owner of a corgi dog named Raf.
Rothschild gained notoriety for his "Art School Dropout" t-shirt collection. His merchandise comprised t-shirts with names of three US art schools, namely, Parsons, Central Saint Martins, and Antwerp.
Rothschild earned his undergraduate degree in audio engineering from California State University, Monterey Bay, in 2008 and has been working in the creative field since 2014.