In late June last year, Yuga Labs, the parent company of NFT projects Bored Ape Yacht Club and Crypto Punks, filed a lawsuit against artist Ryder Ripps, who created his own NFT collection sharing images with the former. On Monday, Lipps’ legal team countered, claiming the lawsuit was used to silence him through legal threats.
A lawsuit to that effect is known as SLAPP. It stands for Strategic Litigation Against Citizen Participation. According to the Press Committee for Press Freedom, the anti-SLAPP motion calls for the case to be dismissed because it involves “speech about matters of public interest.”
Lipps’ legal team claims the artist “used his tech to call out a multi-billion dollar company built on racist and neo-Nazi dog whistles.”
Yuga Labs declined to comment.
Since early 2022, Lips, his partner Jeremy Kayen, and 10 John Dowes have been promoting alt-right imagery throughout the Yuga Lab founder’s hugely successful NFT project Bored Ape Yacht Club. has led a viral campaign that claims to have threaded
Ripps has published the research he and his team have collected on the subject on the website gordongoner.com. He spoke extensively on the issue on his social media outlets and conducted interviews with news outlets and internet personalities on the subject.
Yuga Labs previously denied Ripps’ racism allegations. But it wasn’t until Ripps announced his RR/BAYC that Yuga Labs filed a lawsuit. This is his NFT collection where Ripps re-minted Bored Apes from his Yuga Labs collection and sold 9,500 of his NFTs together for around $1.6 million.
Yuga Labs claims this is a form of trademark infringement that could mislead potential customers. The lawsuit repeatedly referred to Lips’ “campaign of harassment based on false accusations of racism,” but there were no allegations of defamation.
Attorneys for Ripps and Cahen argue that the use of BAYC’s images was a form of misappropriation and that Ripps did not intend to trick potential BAYC customers into purchasing his NFTs.
The RR/BAYC team says on its website that RR/BAYC is an artwork intended to “protest and use satire and appropriation to educate people about The Bored Ape Yacht Club and the NFT framework.” I am writing to
Ripps and Cahen’s motion to dismiss explains that their use of appropriated art specifically served several purposes. (3) to create social pressure to demand that Yuga take responsibility for its actions, and (4) to educate the public about the technical nature and usefulness of NFTs.
WilmerHale’s Louis Tompros, an attorney for Ripps and Cahen, said in an emailed statement that he would seek attorneys’ fees and costs.