- Yuga Labs won $15.75 million in damages against Ryder Ripps for trademark infringement related to his RR/BAYC NFT collection. The court rejected Ripps’ defense of parody and fair use.
- The judge ordered Ripps to cease sales and marketing of RR/BAYC, relinquish related assets, and pay damages equal to his profits from the infringing NFTs.
- The case sets a precedent for trademark and copyright protections applying to NFTs, even as the tech aims to decentralize content. IP laws still prevail over parody claims.
The popular Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection created by Yuga Labs has been embroiled in a legal dispute with conceptual artist Ryder Ripps over trademark infringement. Ripps created his own NFT collection called RR/BAYC that appropriated imagery from the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Yuga Labs took legal action arguing that this infringed on their intellectual property rights. The case has raised interesting questions around parody, satire, and fair use in the world of NFTs.
Yuga Labs Awarded $15 Million in Damages
In October 2022, a U.S. District Judge in California ruled in favor of Yuga Labs in the trademark infringement case. The judge ordered Ripps and his collaborator Jeremy Cahen to pay $15.75 million in damages to Yuga Labs. This was the amount the court determined Ripps and Cahen made in profits from selling the infringing RR/BAYC NFTs.
The judge also ordered Ripps and Cahen to cease all sales and marketing of their NFT collection. They were required to relinquish the smart contract and related online assets behind their RR/BAYC NFTs.
Ripps’ Defense of Parody and Fair Use Rejected
In their defense, Ripps and Cahen had argued that their use of the Bored Ape Yacht Club trademarks and logos was protected parody and fair use under the First Amendment.
However, the court rejected these arguments. The judge determined that Ripps and Cahen acted in bad faith with the intent to profit off Yuga Labs’ intellectual property.
Settlement with a Ripps Collaborator
In February 2023, Yuga Labs reached a settlement with Thomas Lehman, a developer who had assisted Ripps in creating the smart contract for the RR/BAYC NFTs. The terms of the settlement were not made public. This was seen as a small but meaningful legal win for Yuga Labs.
Broader Implications for NFTs and Web3
The court rulings have been described by Yuga Labs as a landmark victory for enforcing intellectual property rights in Web3. The case sets a precedent for trademark and copyright protections applying to NFT collections and metaverse brands. It reinforces that standard IP rules apply even as NFT technology aims to decentralize information and content.
The legal battle between Yuga Labs and Ryder Ripps has highlighted the emerging issues around intellectual property that come with new technologies like NFTs. For now, traditional IP laws seem to prevail, but the debate around parody, fair use, and decentralization in Web3 is likely to continue as NFT adoption grows. The Bored Ape Yacht Club vs Ryder Ripps case is just one early example of how these questions will play out.