Hermès, NFTs and MetaBirkins. Who will handbag the cyber squatters?

How can you protect your IP in the Meta-verse?

Hermès is a brand worth over $2b with a portfolio that covers scarves, shoes, bags, belts and fashion jewellery. 

The Birkin bag is a Hermès signature item, handmade from leather and named after Jane broken, an English actress. Leather is a core brand attribute.

Scarcity has been part of the Hermès playbook, Birkins are distributed to Hermès boutiques in limited quantities and do not follow set schedules.

Earlier this year a “Baby Birkin” NFT (non fungible token) which was animation of a boy growing up in a Birkin bag, sold at auction for over $23k.

This digital art leveraged heavily upon Birkin’s design, name and style, however Hermès, the brand owner received zilch.

A clear case of cyber squatting one may ask?

NFTs or Non fungible tokens are the latest financial product to emerge from the Covid crisis.  Depending upon your perspective, they are either a novel way to own provenance digitally, a speculator’s dream or simply a scam. 

OpenSea an NFT marketplace
OpenSea, an NFT marketplace

Whilst Hermes is crying foul over the Baby-Birkin NFTs, it’s not clear how they can handbag these cyber squatters. Trademark laws are based on physical-geographical territories, not cyber space. 

Cyber space is decentralised and digital artwork can easily be created by anyone with a good computer and design skills. It is also anonymous. 

Who will Hermès instruct its lawyers to go after? Whilst the originator of the Baby Birkin is known, what about those who buy and profit from the NFT? 

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