WH Insights: Intellectual Property Rights and NFTs


26 Jul 2022

In today's WH Insights episode, Galyna Podoprikhina (Associate WH Partners) talks about intellectual property rights and NFTs.

Intellectual Property rights and NFTs are amongst the most topical issues in the sector.

Minting an NFT for a digital asset containing art, music or trademarks that creators do not own or have a valid licence to use, could land them in serious legal trouble.

One of the headline-making examples of possible trademark infringement involving NFTs is the Hermes vs Rothschild lawsuit. Hermes claims that Rothschild’s metabirkins infringe its federally registered Birkin trademarks. Rothschild is counter-arguing that their metabirkins are not commercialized assets. He argues that they are speech, art and expression, the freedom of which is protectable under the US law, where the case is being heard.

The lawsuit is still in its early stages and the entire NFT community is waiting with bated breath for its decision which might be a benchmark for the application of intellectual property considerations to the world of NFTs.

Similarly, when it comes to copyright laws, purchasing an NFT does not automatically give you the right to reproduce, copy or modify such NFT, unless this is specified in the contract of sale or in the smart contract.

Finally, many ask whether it is legal to take a screenshot of an NFT and if so, why do people actually buy the NFT and don’t simply take a screenshot of it?

One is free to take a screenshot of an NFT, just like one is free to take a screenshot or a photo of a painting. Nevertheless, each and every NFT is attached to a smart contract which makes it unique and authentic.

Furthermore, blockchain technology ensures that the authenticity and legal title of such NFT is easily verified.