The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) has emerged victorious in its legal dispute against Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen, the creators of the RR/BAYC NFT collection. The landmark judgment reinforces the importance of protecting intellectual property rights within the rapidly expanding NFT industry.
Yuga Labs Takes Legal Action Against RR/BAYC NFT Collection
In June 2022, Yuga Labs filed a lawsuit against Ripps and Cahen, accusing them of deliberately misleading consumers and pocketing millions of dollars in illicit profits. According to the legal complaint, the RR/BAYC NFT collection utilized marketing materials and BAYC trademarks that were strikingly similar to those of the original BAYC, without obtaining the requisite licenses.
In addition, Yuga Labs disputed allegations made by Ripps and Cahen that the BAYC NFTs contained racist connotations, 4chan memes, and hidden Nazi symbolism.
Court Rules in Favor of Yuga Labs
A US court recently ruled that Yuga Labs owns the valid and enforceable BAYC trademarks. The judgment emphasized that the defendants had used the BAYC trademarks without Yuga Labs’ permission, causing confusion among consumers.
Furthermore, the court rejected Ripps and Cahen’s argument that their use of the BAYC trademarks fell under fair use or artistic expression. The judge concluded that Yuga’s BAYC trademarks had a strong presence in the market, and the RR/BAYC project was aimed at deceiving buyers.
Yuga Labs to Seek Compensation
The court also determined that the domain names registered and used by the defendants (rrbayc.com and apemarket.com) could mislead consumers. Therefore, the judge declared that the defendants engaged in cybersquatting.
Although Yuga Labs sought $200,000 in statutory damages for cybersquatting, the court refused this demand, stating that the assessment of damages would take place during an upcoming trial.