As per Ripps’s filing on Monday, the artist has asked a Los Angeles federal court to stop a trademark lawsuit brought against him by the BAYC creator. He further argued that his NFTs of the apes were a type of “appropriation art” meant as criticism and protected by the First Amendment. His NFTs of Bored Apes reportedly aimed to bring Yuga Labs’ attention to alleged racism. He also called it an “act of protest” against the NFT giant.
For context, Ripps has been a vocal critic of the BAYC. The popular digital creator went on to launch his own NFT collection branded as – RR/BAYC. This featured identical Bored Ape images that he did not buy. Yuga Labs then fired back with a class action lawsuit for allegedly scamming consumers into purchasing fake Bored Ape NFTs.
His attorney, Louis Tompros, on the other hand, maintained that Ripps’ “artistic criticism” is “exactly the kind of artistic expression that the First Amendment protects.”
Ripps Allegations Against Yuga Labs
Ripps accused Yuga Labs and BAYC creators of racist undertones in their projects in January this year. As such, the artist alleged that BAYC founders have Nazi connections and compared the BAYC logo with the Nazi Totenkopf emblem, saying they looked quite alike.
On his RR/BAYC official website, Ripps stated,
“Since December of 2021, I have been investigating the most prominent NFT project, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and its creators, Yuga Labs. Through months of intensive research, myself and other community members have discovered extensive connections between BAYC and subversive internet nazi troll culture. “
Ripps then went on to say that RR/BAYC uses satire and appropriation to protest and educate people regarding the BAYC and NFTs. He also explained that the work is “an extension of and in the spirit of other artists who have worked within the field of appropriation art.”
He also claimed that the existing current terms of ownership put forward by Yuga Labs to BAYC token holders lack clarity and do not meet current copyright standards.
Following the lawsuit, Ripps accused BAYC NFTs of containing coded racist imagery and called its creator’s lawsuit an attempt to “silence an artist who used his craft to call out a multi-billion-dollar company built on racist and neo-Nazi dog whistles.”
Yuga Labs’ Response to Nazi Claims
Ripps’ claims about BAYC founders’ alleged Nazi connection had sparked a controversy. While rubbishing the claims, the NFT marketplace called it a “crazy disinformation campaign” and “insanely far-fetched.”
Its co-founder Gordon Goner detailed that the founders of the platforms are a group of Jewish, Turkish, Pakistani, and Cuban friends and argued that it would be ridiculous to think that its members have anything to do with the Nazi movement.