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Yuga Labs sued troll Bored Ape

Late last month, Yuga Labs, the $4 billion company behind the famous NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club, tried to silence a high-profile critic by suing him in federal court.

Yuga Labs defends Bored Ape

The aforementioned critic, Internet provocateur and conceptual artist Ryder Ripps has hired Louis Tompros of the law firm Wilmer Hale as lead trial counsel in Yuga Labs’ lawsuit against the artist.

Tompros is an experienced intellectual property rights attorney known for representing Pepe frog creator Matt Fury in several lawsuits against far-right organizations accused of adapting Pepe as a racist meme and supporter of white supremacy. Thompros appeared with Furey in the 2020 documentary “Feels Good,” which recounts Furey’s attempts to rehabilitate Pepe’s image, particularly through a copyright infringement suit against Infowars, the website of alternative right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

The creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club have declared war on the critic. The well-known artist claims that the largest NFT brand on Earth is secretly run by a conspiracy of Nazi trolls. The artist sold a collection of NFT brand wannabes, earning about $1.8 million.

That Furey and Ripps now have the same lawyer is no coincidence. Ripps specifically approached Wilmer Hale with a desire to be represented by Thompros based on the lawyer’s experience, including his work successfully representing Furey against Infowars.

For months, Ripps had alleged that the Bored Ape Yacht Club was secretly run by a cabal of Nazi trolls who had deliberately added images of NFT Bored Ape with racist symbols. The owners of BAYC, Yuga Labs, called the whole thing a lunatic troll disinformation campaign.

But when Ripps then sold a wannabe collection of NFT Bored Ape – a move that some took as ironic political commentary and others saw as blatant fundraising – Yuga Labs sued the artist for trademark infringement.

Although Yuga’s lawsuit does not address the defamation issue, legal experts believe its unspoken purpose is to end Ripps’ public, incessant trashing of his brand.

While Tompros has not yet revealed details of Ripps’ planned defense, he has hinted at the fact that the case is likely to be treated as a creative freedom issue.

“The complaint appears to be an attempt to shut down Ryder’s art criticism of Bored Ape Yacht Club as racist and problematic for a variety of other reasons,” Thompros said. “Our plan is to respond, to explain why the suit is frivolous and why the use of trademark law in this context is inappropriate.”

Yuga hired renowned Silicon Valley law firm Fenwick & West, the favorite intellectual property litigation firm of tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Apple, eBay and Oracle, to represent the company in its lawsuit against Ripps.

When asked if Ripps would be inclined to settle or take the case to trial, Tompros said:

“We are perfectly happy to take the case to trial and let the court decide it. I am involved for that very purpose.”

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