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United States District Court for the Central District of California
December 16, 2022, Decided; December 16, 2022, Filed
Case No. CV 22-4355-JFW(JEMx)
CIVIL MINUTES — GENERAL
PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' ANTI-SLAPP MOTION TO STRIKE AND MOTION TO DISMISS [filed 10/3/22; Docket No. 48]
On October 3, 2022, Defendants Ryder Ripps ("Ripps") and Jeremy Cahen ("Cahen") (collectively, "Defendants") filed an Anti-Slapp Motion to Strike and Motion to Dismiss ("Motion"). On October 17, 2022, Plaintiff Yuga Labs, Inc. ("Plaintiff") filed its Opposition. On October 24, 2022, Defendants filed a Reply. Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the Court found the matter appropriate for submission on the papers without oral argument. The matter was, therefore, removed from the Court's hearing calendar and the parties were given advance notice. After considering the moving, opposing, and reply papers, and the arguments therein, the Court rules as follows:
I. Factual and Procedural Background
A. The Parties
Plaintiff is the creator of one of the world's most well known and successful Non-Fungible Token ("NFT") collections, known as the Bored Ape Yacht Club ("BAYC"). [*3] According to Plaintiff, the BAYC NFTs have earned significant attention from the media for their popularity and value, including being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and being dubbed the "epitome of coolness for many" by Forbes magazine. Plaintiff alleges that BAYC NFTs often resell for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, and prominent celebrities are holders of BAYC NFTs. In addition to certain benefits that come with being a member of the exclusive community of BAYC NFT holders, Plaintiff maintains that much of the BAYC NFT collection's value arises from their rarity because only 10,000 BAYC NFTs exist and each is entirely unique. Plaintiff has pending trademark applications with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for "BORED APE YACHT CLUB," "BAYC," "BORED APE," the BAYC Logo, the BAYC BORED APE YACHT CLUB Logo, and the Ape Skull Logo (collectively, the "BAYC Marks"). Plaintiff has used the BAYC Marks since approximately April 2021 in connection with advertising, marketing, and promotion of its products and services nationwide and internationally through multiple platforms, including the BAYC website, NFT markets such as OpenSea, and social media [*4] platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Ripps is a visual artist and creative designer who purports to create artwork that comments on the boundaries between art, the internet, and commerce. According to Defendants, Plaintiff has deliberately embedded racist, neo-Nazi, and alt-right dog whistles in the BAYC NFTs and associated projects.1 Beginning in approximately November 2021, Ripps began criticizing Plaintiff's use of these purported racist, neo-Nazi, and alt-right dog whistles through his Twitter and Instagram profiles, podcasts, cooperation with investigative journalists, and by creating the website gordongoner.com.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 234124 *
Yuga Labs, Inc. -v- Ripps, et al.
BAYC, Marks, trademark, artistic, collection, cause of action, anti-SLAPP, alleges, motion to dismiss, fair use, misleading, website, consumers, Logo, nominative, user, infringement, images, free speech, alt-right, neo-Nazi, racist, token, protected speech, whistles, tracker, Skull, dog, marketplace, authentic