Hermes International has won the first round in its trademark suit targeting virtual Birkin handbags created for the metaverse. Los Angeles artist Mason Rothschild calls these digital images MetaBirkins and uses non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, to authenticate a collection of 100. Rothschild says he created the faux-fur-covered bags to critique Hermes’ use of leather, but the MetaBirkins have proved profitable too, having allegedly fetched more than $1 million collectively.
Hermes sued in January, calling Rothschild a “digital speculator seeking to get rich quick by appropriating the trademark METABIRKINS.” Hermes says it holds the exclusive right to market the Birkin brand, in the real world and in the metaverse. Not so, says Rothschild, when it comes to art. “These images, and the NFTs that authenticate them, are not handbags; they carry nothing but meaning,” his lawyers argue.