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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Herms sues creator of Birkin-inspired NFTs

French luxury conglomerate Herms has filed a trademark lawsuit against American digital maker Mason Rothschild and his digital art project, Metabarkins. According to several media reports including Guardian, the luxury brand is suing Rothschild to create a virtual version inspired by its Birkin bags.

As seen on Rothschild’s Instagram, he creates digital art that is later sold as NFTs and the artworks show off cute Birkin bags which he has named “MetaBirkins.” Citing the complaint, Guardian stated that Herms accuses Rothschild of “trying to profit from its trademark”, adding that the MetaBirkins brand “breaks Herms’s famous Birkin trademark by adding the generic prefix ‘meta’ to the well-known trademark Birkin”.

Meanwhile, Rothschild said in an Instagram statement that Herms’ claims are “baseless” and that he looks forward to helping to defeat those claims in court and setting a precedent.

“I am not making or selling counterfeit Birkin bags. I have created artwork that depicts fictional, fur-covered Birkin bags,” he said, adding that the First Amendment gives him the right to make and sell art in which Birkin The bag is depicted, “just as it empowered Andy Warhol to make and sell art depicting Campbell’s soup cans”.

“I reserve the right to use the term ‘MetaBirkins’ as depicted in art, and to artfully comment on those bags and the Birkin brand,” he said.

Rothschild also explained that using NFTs he sells art does not change the fact that it is art. “From reading Herms complaint it is quite clear that they do not understand what NFTs are, or what NFTs do,” he said.

Rothschild first received a cease and desist letter from Herms about four weeks ago, explaining that Metaberkins is “a playful abstraction of an existing fashion-culture landmark”. He also explained in a previous Instagram post that he reinterpreted the form, materiality, and name of a known cultural touchpoint.

“MetaBirkins is also a commentary on fashion’s history of animal cruelty, and the current embrace of fur-free initiatives and alternative textiles. When it comes to art, selling my MetaBirkins as NFTs selling them as physical art prints It’s my job to educate you about progress in the world and the culture of art. Art is art,” Rothschild said.

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