The Bored Ape Yacht Club, a popular NFT collection featuring unique digital images of cartoon apes, has won a major legal victory in a lawsuit against a troll who had allegedly minted and sold fake BAYC NFTs.
The BAYC NFT collection consists of 10,000 unique tokens featuring cartoon apes with distinctive attributes and backgrounds. It has become a popular and valuable collection in the NFT market.
According to Investopedia, during the launch of the Bored Ape NFTs in 2021, each piece had the price of 0.08 ETH or approximately $220. By mid-October 2022, however, the value of a single token had soared to 76 ETH, which was equivalent to nearly $100,418.
In June 2022, Yuga Labs, the creators of the BAYC NFT collection, initiated legal proceedings against Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen, who created a parody project to BAYC known as RR/BAYC.
Yuga Labs filed the lawsuit claiming that the RR/BAYC creators intentionally created confusion among consumers and generated unjust profits of millions of dollars. Ripps and Cahen allegedly do this by using marketing materials similar to BAYC and using BAYC marks without authorization.
In the court case, Yuga Labs also denied Ripps and Cahen’s claims that the BAYC NFT collection contained racist dog whistles, 4chan memes and covert Nazi imagery.
Yuga Labs has been confirmed as the rightful owner of the BAYC trademarks in a recent decision by a U.S. court, according to a report by Coindesk. The court found that the trademarks are both valid and enforceable.
The decision also emphasized that the defendants in the case had used the BAYC marks to sell RR/BAYC NFTs without obtaining Yuga Labs’ consent and in a way that was likely to cause confusion.
The court ruled that the defendant did not engage in fair use or artistic expression by using the BAYC marks because Yuga’s marks held significant strength in the market, and the RR/BAYC project intended to deceive individuals.
According to CoinDesk, the court has ruled that Ripps and Cahen were participating in cybersquatting, a practice of registering, trafficking in or using a domain name to profit from the goodwill of someone else’s trademark or brand.
Cybersquatting typically involves registering domain names identical or confusingly similar to well-known trademarks. The court found that their registered domain names, rrbayc.com and apemarket.com, had the potential to cause confusion.
Although Yuga Labs sought $200,000 in statutory damages for cybersquatting, the court dismissed this claim and decided that the assessment of damages would be determined in a forthcoming trial.
This court decision sets a precedent for future cases involving NFT collections and potential imitators. While some argue that satirical NFT compilations offer commentary and criticism, others contend they can adversely affect the original creators’ reputation and financial success.
The BAYC NFT collection has become one of the most successful and valuable NFT collections to date, with total sales exceeding $2.1 billion.
This can be attributed to several factors, starting with the collection’s scarcity, making each one a rare and exclusive digital artwork. The BAYC has also cultivated a dedicated community of fans and collectors who are passionate about the collection and willing to pay high prices to own a BAYC NFT.
The BAYC’s strong branding creates a sense of value and identity for the collection, leading to high demand and prices. The increasing popularity of NFTs, in general, has also boosted the demand for BAYC, making it more valuable and sought-after.