Hermès sues digital artist Mason Rothschild over MetaBirkins NFTs

    French luxury design house Hermès International S.A. or simply Hermès, is suing American digital artist Mason Rothschild for selling digital Birkings bags as NFTs.

    Mason created digital art inspired by the Birkin bag( a line of tote bags), which he calls MetaBirkins and sells as NFTs. It is reported that one of these bags was sold for $42,000 last month.

    What’s the feud all about?

    The ‘Birkin’ bag is Hermès trademark, introduced in the 1980s. The company has alleged infringement of its trademark product by Rothschild for stealing their designs in its complaint. The company filed the complaint on January 14th.

    Hermès further claimed that the selling and advertising of NFTs by Mason falls under the case of “unfair competition”.

    Mason stated that despite being of the same size and shape, MetaBirkins are different from Birkin bags in terms of their colours and patterns and are presented chiefly in fur. “I’ve made artworks that depict imaginary, fur-covered Birkin bags,” states Rothschild.

    NFTs criticism revisited.

    The lawsuit has opened floodgates of criticism of NFTs and their “uniqueness”, which is many a time questionable.

    A non-fungible token is considered irreplaceable, an asset that is unique to only its owner and is unique in every aspect. Each NFT has a different value and cannot be exchanged with another NFT for the same reason.

    But confusion arises when artists take “inspiration” from brands, and these brands in question, launch NFTs of their own. By definition, NFTs are unique, and art can be designed by taking inspiration. But what if the inspiration in itself is trademarked? Will the artist not be accused of ripping off the brand’s popularity? Will an NFT still be considered original?

    The debate does not end here; NFTs operate in a decentralised system and can create copyright issues too. For instance, if someone sells their NFT based on someone else’s artwork, they may infringe the artwork’s copyright.

    This is exactly what happened with Mason Rothschild’s MetaBirkins.

    Lessons to learn.

    You may not get your hands on a Birkin bag easily, but you don’t have to wait long for an NFT Birkin artwork! With luxury brands launching their own NFTs, you may now own exclusive designs by your favourite brand.

    That said, these one-of-a-kind digital assets call for many questions. Issues involving revolving around NFTs include:

    1) Since anyone can create NFTs without any qualifications or need, they create value where there should be none.

    2) NFTs are vulnerable to security thefts and copyright infringements.

    3) NFTs are stored in a virtual ledger called a blockchain. To “mint” a piece of art using blockchain technology, a process called “mining” is done. Mining costs massive computing powers and loads of energy and electricity.

    4) NFTs are bought and sold with Ethereum. There are enormous greenhouse gas emissions associated with making transactions via Ethereum.

    These shortcomings have resulted in heated debates over the value of NFTs and animosity towards NFTs as a whole.

    As a beginner, you must keep an eye out for these things.

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