The French luxury group Hermès has initiated legal proceedings against an American artist for virtual versions inspired by its famous Birkin bags.
Mason Rothschild creates digital art which he sells in the form of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, which can be traded online but whose ownership cannot be forged.
He named the works depicting whimsical furry Birkin bags “MetaBirkins” and sold them on websites dedicated to selling NFTs.
Hermès accused Rothschild of trying to profit from its brands.
“Defendant’s MetaBirkins mark simply rips the famous Birkin mark from Hermès by adding the generic prefix ‘meta’ to the famous Birkin mark,” he said in his complaint filed in New York.
Rothschild said in an online post that it does not create or sell fake Birkin bags.
“I have made works of art that represent imaginary Birkin bags covered in fur,” he said, adding that as art it was about freedom of expression protected by the law. American constitution, “just as it gave Andy Warhol the right to make and sell art depicting Campbell’s soup cans”.
“The fact that I’m selling art using NFTs doesn’t change the fact that it’s art,” Rothschild said.
Hermès declined to comment on an ongoing court case.