Bored Ape Yacht Club maker Yuga Labs Inc. settled its lawsuit against an NFT market developer it had accused of tricking consumers into buying counterfeit versions of its Bored Ape NFTs.
Yuga Labs filed separate lawsuits against developers Thomas Lehman and Ryan Hickman in January, alleging that they are central parts of the team enlisted by conceptual artist Ryder Ripps to create copycat “RR/BAYC” NFTs using the Bored Ape images and name.
In a statement emailed to Bloomberg Law, Yuga Labs said that it arrived at a confidential settlement with Lehman and is “pleased that Mr. Lehman acknowledged his role in assisting former cohorts, Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen, to infringe on Yuga Labs’ trademarks in developing, marketing, and selling counterfeit NFTs.”
In a joint stiuplation, the company and Lehman filed a proposed permanent injunction order that would prevent him from using the BAYC mark or confusingly similar marks in any capacity, including in connection with the RR/BAYC NFTs.
The proposed order also would require Lehman to destroy any materials in his possession or control that publicly display BAYC or similar marks, including any RR/BAYC NFTs that he owns.
“It was never my intention to harm Yuga Labs’s brand, and I reject all disparaging statements made about Yuga Labs and its founders and appreciate their many positive contributions to the NFT space,” Lehman said in the statement.
The Bored Apes Yacht Club maker sued Ripps and Cahen in June 2022, claiming that Ripps scammed consumers into purchasing fake Bored Ape NFTs using Yuga Labs’ registered trademarks. In December 2022, the artists appealed a Los Angeles federal judge’s decision to deny their Anti-Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation motion to dismiss the suit.
Ripps said his NFTs are protected free speech that critique neo-Nazi and alt-right imagery that he believes is featured in the Bored Ape collection and Yuga Labs’ lawsuit was meant to silence that criticism.
The company’s cases against Hickman, Ripps, and Cahen remain ongoing.
Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape NFT collection depicting images of cartoon apes achieved enormous popularity following its launch in 2021, generating more than $2 billion in total sales with several celebrities buying the NFTs—including Justin Bieber, Madonna, and Mark Cuban. The theft of Seth Green’s Bored Ape, among other events, prompted a number of legal questions regarding ownership of the tokens and the intellectual property rights that go with them, some of which attorneys are hoping will be answered through ongoing litigation.
“Yuga Labs looks forward to holding Mr. Ripps and Mr. Cahen responsible for their infringement backed by a campaign of vicious and baseless lies and appreciates Mr. Lehman’s rejection of their actions,” said Yuga Labs’ spokesperson.
Fenwick & West LLP represents Yuga Labs. Lehman is represented by Ethan Jacobs Law.
The case is Yuga Labs, Inc. v. Lehman, C.C.N.D.N.Y., No. 1:23-cv-00085, joint stipulation filed 2/6/23.
To contact the reporter on this story:
To contact the editors responsible for this story: