Ryder Ripps Lawyers To Pit Artistic Freedom Against Trademark Traditions

Ryder Ripps was an attorney before the case in Yuga Labs court.

Yuga Labs, creator of Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), sued Ripps on June 24, alleging trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and cybersquatting on its NFT RR/BAYC collection.

Ripps, a 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 alumnus, and Jeremy Cahen, another defendant named in the suit and founder of non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Not Larva Labs, announced they would be represented by Louis Tompros, partner at WilmerHale, who was confirmed by attorneys at Forbes.

“The trademark is not a muzzle – Yuga is being misused by the court system to choose to punish and silence Ripps and Cahen for creating art that speaks against their litany of lies and unethical behavior, ”read a WilmerHale press release announcing Ripps’ new attorneys.

According to Tompros, the case centers on “applying traditional old intellectual property law to new and evolving technologies.” His work in IP law includes high-profile cases such as representing Matt Furie in a dispute over the use of his meme “Pepe the Frog” on the far right. He won a lawsuit against Alex Jones of Infowars in 2009.

BAYC has one of the most generous approaches to ownership privileges, giving consumers unlimited commercialization rights to its Bored Apes, including permission to create derivative works. The owners of Bored Ape have “an unlimited, global license to use, copy, and display purchased Art for the purpose of creating derivative works based on the Art,” according to the company’s Terms and Conditions.

The Yuga Labs complaint alleges that Ripps uses the same trademarks to promote their RR/BAYC NFT collection and that they are trying to sell these RR/BAYC NFTs in the same marketplaces that Yuga Labs uses to sell its Bored Ape NFTs, such as OpenSea. According to the suit, these NFTs that are identical to itself are deliberately confusing to potential buyers.

Although Ripps says his remake of Bored Apes is “satire,” the suit states that the artists ’collection is part of a“ long harassment campaign against Yuga Labs and an attempt to lower the value of price of real Bored Ape NFT. ” Ripps has been a critic of the collection, saying BAYC has “extensive connections” to the “subversive Nazi troll culture on the internet,” claims Yuga Labs denies.

Bored Apes is NFT’s top collection by floor cap, estimated at $ 985.63 million by NFTPriceFloor.

The case is currently poised to become an important intellectual property case within the world of NFTs. Given the current ambiguity over what rights, if any, are granted to NFT creators, owners, and buyers, a decision on the suit will set a precedent for future collections.

“We’re definitely ready to take the case all the way,” Tompros said.

The main question of the case, according to Tompros co-counsel Alfred Steiner, is whether there is a possibility of confusion in the RR/BAYC collection. Steiner, both actor and lawyer, was brought in as an expert on the subject to advise the case.

Ultimately, he says, the case is a trademark issue with implications across the NFT sector.

“Artists have to represent the world, and trademarks are in the world,” Steiner said.

In a Twitter Spaces this morning, Ripps said he would only settle the case for the $ 100 billion payment, though Tompros would not comment on whether it was part of his legal team’s strategy.

Yuga Labs acquires Silicon Valley firm Fenwick & West, a favorite with tech giants like Facebook and Amazon
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, to represent them in the case against Ripps. While Ripps ’team has not yet filed a formal response to the complaint, Tompros said Forbes one was filed.