NFT artists Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen must recompense Bored Ape Yacht Club’s originator, Yuga Labs, for $1.57 million. It encompasses disgorgement, damages, and legal expenses. This ruling marked a conclusive chapter in the enduring “imitative” NFT lawsuit saga.
Judicial Verdict: A Resounding Echo of Copyright Uphold
The verdict, delivered on October 25, is a sequel to the April 21 partial summary judgment. At the time, the scales of justice tipped in favor of Yuga Labs. The essence of the lawsuit was rooted in Yuga Labs’ allegation that the defendants, Ripps and Cahen, blatantly breached copyright protocols. They crafted imitative renditions of its Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) collectibles.
The examination by District Court Judge John Walter bore fruit. He adjudicated Yuga Labs deserving of $1.37 million, disgorgement of the defendants’ financial gains from selling the counterfeit NFTs. Additionally, $200,000 was allocated for statutory damages for cybersquatting infractions.
The legal narrative further unfolds as Yuga Labs can reclaim attorney charges and related expenditures from Ripps and Cahen. This entitlement sprang from the judge’s assessment that the trademark infringement merited the label of an “exceptional case.”
The legal framework regards a case as exceptional when it unveils the defendant’s actions as ‘malicious, fraudulent, deliberate or willful.’ The characterization aptly fits the conduct of Ripps and Cahen in this scenario.
The Failed Ryder Ripps Approach: Parody Defense
The defendants’ plea, categorizing their BAYC versions as “satire” and “parody,” fell on deaf judicial ears. Judge Walter underscored that the defendants orchestrated a deliberate infringement of Yuga’s BAYC trademarks. It was driven by a sinister motive to monetize from the same. Even after the partial summary judgment, the marketing and promotion of their imitative BAYC versions further attested to their disregard for legal mandates.
The legal duel commenced with Yuga Labs launching a lawsuit against the artistic duo in June 2022. Fast forward to an October 16 hearing in a US appeals court. The defense waved the flag of free speech under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. They sought to dismiss the lawsuit with this cheap tactic. However, the trident of judges remained unswayed by the arguments. Instead, they solidified the stand for copyright preservation in the burgeoningly complex NFT domain.
This case sets a poignant precedent in the digital collectibles realm. It illuminates the legal recourse available to original creators in the face of copyright infringement.
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