Hermès Reportedly Sends Cease-And-Desist Letter To Have NFT ‘Birkins’ Removed
By Mikelle Leow, 04 Jan 2022
Not one to horse around with its branding being appropriated by someone else, Hermès has reportedly sent a takedown notice to the maker of famed non-fungible MetaBirkins, which have also gained prestige in the digital world.
According to artist Mason Rothschild, he has received a cease-and-desist letter from the luxury house over his vibrant, Birkin-shaped digital collectibles which are unassociated with the brand. The artworks have since been removed from their retail space in NFT marketplace OpenSea.
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Hermès typically assumes a passive stance, rarely making responses online, but it was shaken enough by Rothschild’s MetaBirkins to make a public statement about its displeasure. Last month, the brand told the press that the NFTs “infringe upon [its] trademark rights, and are an example of fake Hermès products in the metaverse.”
Part of Hermès’ indignation over the crypto handbags could be due to its own wariness of the metaverse. While other luxury labels have been quick to jump into the virtual world, it recently described that it still “values the ‘tangible expression of handcrafted physical objects.’”
In response to Hermès’ alleged notice, Rothschild said the brand is denying him of his First Amendment rights, which “[give] me every right to create art based on my interpretations of the world around me.” He added that MetaBirkins are “also a commentary on fashion’s history of animal cruelty, and its current embrace of fur-free initiatives and alternative textiles.”
The artist additionally likened the retail of digital tokens to how people have been selling “physical art prints.”
While the brand has a say over how its trademarks are being used on leather goods and other related products, it can also be argued by some that its rights don’t extend to the digital realm, says The Fashion Law (TFL).
Hermès has yet to take legal action over MetaBirkins. However, if it does choose to launch a trademark infringement case, it would have to prove that its rights apply in the metaverse, as well as establish that MetaBirkins are confusing enough to deceive customers into believing they are original Hermès products or associated with the brand.
For this, the company might have a reasonable argument—appearances aside, MetaBirkins have sold for as much as real Birkin bags, and have even been placed on the luxury resale platforms, according to TFL.
Rothschild said he would not apologize for the crypto bags as Hermès has the power to “amplify young creatives and artists rather than stomp them out.”
“Your actions can help determine the future of art in the metaverse,” the artist concluded his message. “You can be a part of an incredible movement.”
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