Yuga Labs, blue-chip NFT Bored Ape Yacht Club’s parent company, has filed a 43-page suit against Ryder Ripps, claiming the latter is scamming buyers and hurting the company’s reputation.
It will be remembered that in February 2022, Ryder Ripps, a self-proclaimed creative director, artist, and satirist, took to Twitter to underscore the similarities between the BAYC and Totenkopf logos. He said BAYC’s ape skull logo eerily resembles the Totenkopf—a skull-and-crossbones image also referred to as Nazi Germany’s World War II “death head” insignia.
Ripps’ tweet insinuated that BAYC has Nazi ties and that he was doing further research on the matter. He even published a compilation of what he claims is evidence of antisemitism and Nazi imagery among the Bored Apes.
The online provocateur even went so far as to buy the gordongoner.com domain, the moniker used by one of Yuga Labs’ co-founders, Wylie Aronow. The website is hypercritical of BAYC’s founders and details numerous examples of esoteric symbolism of the NFT collection.
Viral Video Revives Issue
The issue may have eventually died a natural death, but last week, an investigative YouTuber, Philip Rusnack, revived it through a video that has since gone viral. According to Rusnack’s hour-long video, Yuga Labs’ flagship BAYC NFT collection employs racist imagery and white supremacist esotericism.
He even made a call-to-action at the end of the video and asked his viewers to pressure BAYC NFT holders to burn their NFTs to eliminate them from the blockchain. Ripps got dragged into the issue when Rusnack implied that his video is an exploration of Ripps’ supposed evidence that he compiled at the start of the year.
Ripps and RR/BAYC vs. Yuga Labs
The thing is, Ripps created RR/BAYC, a collection composed of 6,000 NFTs based on the original BAYC collection that he never purchased. He minted them first on Foundation on May 13 but was sent an initial DMCA takedown request by Yuga Labs. However, Foundation rescinded the claim when Ripps fought it.
Yuga Labs wasn’t going to take it sitting down, which led to the filing of the 43-page lawsuit against Ripps. The company accused Ripps of “seeking to devalue” official BAYC NFTs with his copycat collection. The lawsuit further claims that Ripps used original BAYC images for his RR/BAYC NFT collection and marketed the NFTs as official BAYC products.
According to the suit, Ripps’ “Ape Market” NFT marketplace allegedly used Yuga Labs’ trademarks. It added that Ripps’ actions were a “deliberate effort to harm Yuga Labs at the expense of consumers.”
“This is no mere monkey business. . . . These actions are calculated, intentional, and willful with the stated purpose of causing actual and monetary harm to Yuga Labs and to the holders of authentic Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs,” said part of the lawsuit
The collection, though, has since been removed from OpenSea, due to “a claim of intellectual property infringement.” Before its removal, though, the RR/BAYC NFT collection reached nearly $3.5 million in total volume traded.
Ripps took to Twitter to respond to the lawsuit, but he didn’t address Aronow’s blog post where he called Ripps a “demented troll.” He said his RR/BAYC NFT collection is a parody and protest intended to educate people about BAYC’s purported extremist affiliations.
Yuga Labs did not directly respond to Ripps’ Nazi affiliation claim. Still, a Twitter post on Friday said the group “will continue to be transparent with our community as we fight these slanderous claims” and that it “will continue exploring and pursuing all legal options at our disposal.”
Incidentally, Yuga Labs, a company valued at $4 billion, is seeking a jury trial. As this is an ongoing issue, check back regularly for updates on the case.
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