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Fashion house Hermes won a dispute over NFT tokens using the image of Birkin bags

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On Friday, a federal court in Manhattan settled a dispute between French fashion house Hermes and artist Mason Rothschild. He was selling NFT tokens on the network, which he called “MetaBirkin” using the name of the famous Hermes handbag without the brand’s consent. He invoked the right to freedom of artistic expression.

NFT is an abbreviation whose expansion means non-fungible token. It is a unique digital certificate stored in the blockchain that provides certain ownership rights to an asset, usually digital, such as a work of art.

It is type of digital certificate with unprecedented features in the digital world – is unique, technically unchanged and impossible to fake. It is these features that make NFT unique, because the ease of copying, counterfeiting and hacking any content has been one of the most serious weaknesses of the virtual world so far.

In practice NFT token it can take different forms, but it always has two characteristics. Firstly, contains a text, graphic, audio, video file or another for which NFT is a certificate of originality – certifies that this particular file is the original.

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French fashion house vs digital artist

The reason for the dispute between Hermes and Rothschild is that the artist created “MetaBirkins” – 100 NFT related paintings depicting precious Birkin bags covered with colorful fur.

Hermes called Rothschild a “digital speculator” and NFT a “get-rich-quick” scheme that infringed on its “Birkin” trademark and created the false impression that the fashion house endorsed tokens.

Hermes Birkin is one of the most desirable handbags in the worldYui Mok/PA Wire/PAP/EPA

Rothschild, whose official name is Sonny Estival, defended himself by claiming that the works were his absurd statements about luxury goods and are exempt from a lawsuit based on the 1st Amendment protection of the US Constitution for art that uses trademarks in an artistic manner without clearly misleading consumers.

In February, a jury found in Hermes’ favor and awarded the company $133,000 in damages. dollars. However, the French fashion house filed another lawsuit in March because Rothschild continued to sell its NFTs. Hermes asked the court to force the man to cease operations, to return the remaining tokens and the profits that appeared after the trial. Before the court, Rothschild argued that Hermes’ request “goes far beyond what is appropriate in a case like this involving artistic expression.”

The court sided with Hermes

District Judge in USA, Jed Rakoff, acceded to Hermes’ request to ban the sale of tokens. It stated that the permanent injunction was justified because Rothschild’s continued marketing of NFT would likely mislead consumers and irreparably hurt the company.

Rakoff rejected Rothschild’s requests to overturn the sentence or hold a new trial.

“The defendant’s entire plan was to deceive consumers into believing, by using variations of Hermes trademarks, that Hermes endorses its lucrative NFT MetaBirkins,” said Rakoff. “Nothing in the First Amendment absolves him of responsibility for such a plan,” the judge ruled.

To buy a Birkin bag, you need to sign up for a waiting listJohn Angelillo//Newscom/PAP/EPA

The only element of the judgment that was favorable to Rothschild is the issue of transferring the tokens to Hermes. The judge did not order such action out of “reasonable caution” over concerns of a violation of the First Amendment. However, Rothschild cannot sell them, so they are practically useless.

Model Birkin

The Hermes Birkin bag is one of the most expensive and exclusive bags in the world. To buy it, you need to sign up for the waiting list.

The Birkin’s elusiveness has kept it one of the world’s most desirable handbags since Hermes named it after British actress Jane Birkin in 1984, with prices ranging from around $10,000 to tens of thousands for a crocodile leather bag.

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jane BirkinAurore Marechal/ABACAPRESS.COM/PAP

Main photo source: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PAP/EPA

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