In a landmark legal battle, NFT artist Ryder Ripps and his associate Jeremy Cahen have been ordered to pay Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) developer Yuga Labs nearly $9 million in profit disgorgement. The final court judgment, delivered by US District Judge John Walter on Friday, also includes a permanent ban on the use of the BAYC identifier in any logos or trademarks by Ripps and Cahen.
The ruling further mandates the transfer of any infringing intellectual property, including codes, passwords, and credentials, to Yuga Labs within two weeks. Additionally, the duo must dispose of any remaining Ryder Ripps/BAYC NFTs or surrender them to Yuga Labs for burning. The court has also ordered Ripps and Cahen to cover approximately $7 million in legal fees accrued during the lengthy lawsuit.
Significance of the Case
The Ryder Ripps/Yuga Labs case sets a significant precedent for intellectual property protection within the rapidly expanding NFT and crypto markets. It underscores the importance of legally safeguarding trademarks and intellectual property, even in decentralized tech environments. Yuga Labs’ successful action against unauthorized NFT use serves as a warning to others, reinforcing the need for creators and companies to respect intellectual property rights.
Timeline of Legal Battle
The legal dispute traces back to May 2022 when Ripps and Cahen launched the Ryder Ripps Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection, bearing a striking resemblance to Bored Apes. This prompted Yuga Labs to sue the duo in June, alleging the creation and promotion of “copycat NFTs” that devalued authentic ones.
Ripps argued his NFTs were a form of appropriation art meant for artistic criticism. However, by October, Judge Walter ruled in favor of Yuga Labs, ordering Ripps and Cahen to pay over $1.5 million in damages for trademark infringement.
Despite the recent judgment, Cahen remains resolute, indicating plans for an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of California. The ongoing legal saga between Ryder Ripps, Jeremy Cahen, and Yuga Labs highlights the evolving landscape of intellectual property protection in the burgeoning NFT market.