January 21, 2022
French luxury group Hermes has begun legal proceedings against a US artist of virtual versions inspired by its iconic Birkin bags.
Mason Rothschild creates digital art that he sells as a non-fungible token or NFT, which can be traded online but cannot forge ownership.
These have turned digital items from illustrations to memes into virtual collectors’ items.
He names the pieces depicting the fanciful feathered Birkin bags “MetaBirkins” and sells them on websites that specialize in selling NFTs.
Hermes accused Rothschild of trying to profit from its brands.
“The respondent’s trademark MetaBirkins was simply diverged from the well-known Hermes trademark Birkin by adding the generic prefix ‘meta’ to the well-known trademark Birkin,” the firm said in its complaint filed on May 14. 1 in New York, a copy obtained by AFP.
Rothschild said in an online post that he does not make or sell fake Birkin bags.
“I have done artwork that depicts fur-covered Birkin bags, in the imagination,” he said, adding that art is a right to freedom of expression protected by the US constitution.
“The fact that I sell the work with NFTs doesn’t change the fact that it’s a work of art,” he said.
Hermes declined to comment on an ongoing legal case when contacted by AFP.
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