The latest development in the NFT world, sees Hermès come up against Mason Rothschild the creator of the MetaBirkin for copyright infringement of the Birkin bag.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are causing a stir in the creative and artistic world as artwork is downloaded, turned into AI and sometimes sold for millions. The digital world has created a new revenue stream for intangible goods which are created using the works of another original artist.
Mason Rothschild, created NFTs of the well known Hermès Birkin bags with sales estimated to be around £500,000 of the MetaBirkins.
The Hermès Birkin bag can be sold for anything up to £500,000 and the design originally created carries copyrights that only belong to the luxury brand.
Just like selling counterfeit designer products, artists argue that NFT's infringe their copyrights in a similar way because a photo can be downloaded online and an intangible NFT version is created of that same product without their permission.
The problem with NFT's is that anyone can create an NFT version of any artwork and sell it online claiming that it is their artwork. This presents a problem for artists because it takes away a revenue stream from them for something which has been created with their original ideas.
Hermès is not the only brand to have their designs copied into NFTs and protecting the intellectual property of luxury brands has always been important since fashion and intellectual property are inextricably linked and intellectual property rights exist in a whole host of creative works such as literary works, fabric design and shapes.
NFT's have introduced another layer of vigilance for brands in managing and protecting their artworks from being stolen. The digital world has extended to selling intangible products which can only be appreciated through a screen for huge sums of money. It will be interesting to see whether IP licenses will in future extend to include the use of NFT's and to digital artworks more broadly.