Conviction of an artist for counterfeiting – We told you about it in the first article of our new column “ the crypto court “. The luxury house Hermès sued artist Mason Rothschild for counterfeiting and damage to its brand image. And, the verdict that has just fallen could make many other creators tremble.
mason’s bad fur day
Hermès’ argument was simple: the artist has used the trademark of Birkin bags without authorization and diverted it so that the digital works (here, NFTs) thus created damage the reputation of the brand.
For his part, Mason had built his defense on freedom of expression. Which is established as constitutional law by the first amendment of the American constitution. The creator wanted, according to him, to convey an artistic message and speak out against animal suffering. Reason why the bags Metabirkins wore more or less exotic furs.
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Web3 is not a legal no man’s land
The court sided with the French house and ordered the artist to pay $133,000 in damages to Hermès. Remember that the sale of NFT bags Metabirkins reportedly earned Mason $125,000.
The use by an artist, whether known or not, of products whose trademark is registered and protected in the physical world therefore constitutes an infringement of the intellectual property of the trademark and which, as such, is reprehensible.
If the judgment that interests us today was rendered in the United States, iit is relatively likely that French judges will adopt a similar reading of the texts in order to protect the property of rights holders.
As a reminder, counterfeiting is criminally sanctioned in France by a fine of up to €300,000 and imprisonment for a maximum of three years.
The artist reacted strongly to this condemnation
For Mason Rotschild, this condemnation is a real cold shower and contributes to muzzle artistic expression. Is it necessarily obliged to monopolize the codes of an existing brand to be audible? Everyone will have their own opinion.
The fact remains that, according the artist, this decision is akin to a vast joke. According to him, it could just as well have been a question of asking total strangers met in the street what is art and what is not.
Notwithstanding Mason’s regrets, this decision is likely to set a precedent in the matter. The strict interpretation made by judges should urge web3 artists to be cautious and innovation if they want to avoid suffering the same fate. Let’s hope the ecosystem pulls through and can get rid of it soon legions of bots that plague social networks.
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