Copyright Lawsuit Between NFT Brand And Artist Has Reached Settlement



  • Yuga Labs, the creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFTs, has reached a settlement in a federal court with Thomas Lehman, one of the participants in Ryder Ripps’ RR/BAYC project.
  • This comes as part of Yuga’s ongoing legal battle against Ripps who had accused the BAYC NFTs of containing hidden pro-Nazi and racist imagery.
  • The company has sued Ripps for trademark infringement, a case that is still pending. Lehman has conceded to Yuga’s ownership of the BAYC trademark and that he infringed on it through his participation in the RR/BAYC project.

The NFT (non-fungible token) market has been booming in recent years and with it the question of how to copyright NFT images. The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a dominant NFT brand that is at the center of a trademark dispute with conceptual artist and internet provocateur, Ryder Ripps. In early 2022, Ripps started circulating allegations that BAYC NFTs had hidden pro-Nazi and racist imagery. He then went on to sell a copycat collection of 10,000 Bored Ape NFTs in May, claiming it was a political and artistic statement.

Yuga Labs, the $4 billion company behind the BAYC NFTs, sued Ripps for trademark infringement in a Southern California federal court in June of 2022.Recently, Yuga supplemented its lawsuit against Ripps by suing two other participants in the RR/BAYC project – Thomas Lehman, in the Northern District of New York and Ryan Hickman, in Nevada federal court. However, Lehman has now reached a confidential settlement with Yuga, in which he has conceded to the company’s ownership of the BAYC trademark and that he infringed on these marks as a part of his involvement in the RR/BAYC project.

This case highlights the importance of copyrighting NFT images. NFTs are unique digital assets that can be bought, sold, and traded as a form of investment. However, without proper protection, the rights to NFT images can be easily violated, as we have seen in the BAYC vs RR/BAYC case. It is essential that NFT creators and owners take the necessary steps to protect their digital assets, such as trademarking their NFT images and taking legal action against any infringement.

Lehman’s settlement is certainly a victory for Yuga, but it has not yet impacted Ripps’ lawsuit, as the two cases are separate and were filed in different federal jurisdictions. Ripps has said that he was not aware of Lehman’s settlement with Yuga and that the development was “news to him.”

The Bored Ape Yacht Club vs Ryder Ripps case is an ongoing legal battle that highlights the importance of copyrighting NFT images. The settlement with Thomas Lehman may be a small victory for Yuga Labs, but the case against Ripps is still pending, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the coming months. The NFT market is rapidly growing and as it becomes more mainstream, it is important for NFT creators and owners to be proactive in protecting their digital assets.

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