In a closely watched lawsuit over the NFT series known as Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), controversial artist Ryder Ripps has been hit with more than $1.5 million in damages by a California judge. The ruling by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter found that Ripps and his co-creator Jeremy Cahen's claim of creating their own line of Bored Apes under the label RR/BAYC for "Ryder Ripps Bored Ape Yacht Club" as a parody was not valid.
Ripps had previously criticized the Bored Ape Yacht Club, alleging the presence of offensive elements in the ape characters created by Yuga Labs. The case, which revolved around issues of fair use and cybersquatting, culminated in damages totaling $1,375,362.92, representing the profit made from the sale of RR/BAYC tokens, along with an additional $200,000 in statutory damages, a permanent injunction, and Yuga's attorneys' fees and costs.
The ruling emphasized that Ripps and Cahen had acted in bad faith and intentionally infringed on Yuga's BAYC Marks for profit. They were ordered to cease all sales and marketing of their counterfeit NFTs and transfer their fake Apes' smart contract. Ripps and Cahen, however, plan to appeal the court's decision.
The decision also pointed out that the added design elements to Ripps's NFTs did not change the fact that they were confusingly similar to Yuga's trademarks, and the competing product looked "identical" to Yuga's product.
The ruling rejected the defendants' claims that their actions were a protest against Yuga, as evidence suggested their intention to profit from consumer confusion. The trial also explored the limits of parody, with discussions on the nature of satire and its relationship to brand identity.