Artists Ordered to Pay $9 Million in Damages in Bored Ape Yacht Club Copyright Lawsuit

Los Angeles, California – Artists Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen have suffered a setback in their legal battle against Yuga Labs, the creators of Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC). Recently, a court filing dismissed their counterclaims in the ongoing copyright lawsuit, leaving them with a hefty financial burden. The court’s decision mandates Ripps and Cahen to pay nearly $9 million in damages, including legal and expert witness fees, along with disgorgement.

The controversy began in May 2022 when Ripps and Cahen launched an unauthorized collection called Ryder Ripps BAYC (RR/BAYC), intentionally capitalizing on the popularity of the original BAYC non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This move initiated a legal battle with Yuga Labs, who accused the duo of copyright infringement. In April of last year, a judge ruled in favor of Yuga Labs and awarded the company $1.57 million in damages from Ripps and Cahen for their infringements.

However, the recent court order not only dismisses Ripps and Cahen’s counterclaims but also significantly increases the penalties imposed on them. According to the court’s order, they must destroy any RR/BAYC NFTs in their possession or surrender them to Yuga Labs for destruction. Additionally, all related infringing materials, including articles, software, promotional items, and advertisements bearing any BAYC trademark, must be obliterated.

Furthermore, the court has demanded that Ripps and Cahen transfer all social media accounts and the smart contract associated with the RR/BAYC NFTs to Yuga Labs. This effectively puts an end to their involvement with the unauthorized collection. In spite of the court’s decision, Cahen, also known as Pauly0x online, expressed the duo’s intention to appeal the ruling at the Ninth Circuit Court of California. Their counterclaims, alleging intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, as well as a plea for a declaratory judgment of no defamation, were all dismissed in this recent court filing.

This case reflects the legal challenges and consequences surrounding the creation and distribution of NFTs, particularly those that infringe upon existing copyrights. It serves as a cautionary tale for artists and developers in the digital art space, underscoring the significance of respecting intellectual property rights. The outcome of this legal battle emphasizes the need for creators to navigate the NFT landscape with care and adhere to copyright laws.