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Ryder Ripps says the Bored Ape NFTs lawsuit is meant to silence him

Yuga Labs, which is the company behind the NFT projects Bored Ape Yacht Club and Crypto Punks, sued artist Ryder Ripps in late June because Ripps’s NFT collection used some of the same artwork as Bored Ape Yacht Club’s. Ripps’ legal team fought back on Monday, saying that the action was an attempt to scare Ripps into silence.

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, is the name of a legal action with this goal. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says that an anti-SLAPP motion is a way to try to get a case thrown out because it involves “speech on an issue of public importance.”

Ripps’ legal team says that the artist used his talent to expose a multi-billion dollar business that was “built on racist and neo-Nazi dog whistles.”

Yuga Labs decided not to answer

Since the beginning of 2022, Ripps, his partner Jeremy Cahen, and 10 John Does have been running a viral campaign that says the creators of Yuga Labs’ wildly popular NFT product Bored Ape Yacht Club used alt-right symbols.

Ripps posted the research he and his team had done on the subject on the website gordongoner.com. He has talked a lot about the problem on social media and in interviews with journalists and online personalities.

Yuga Labs has already shot down Ripps’s claims of racism. But Yuga Labs did not start a lawsuit until Ripps released RR/BAYC, an NFT collection in which he re-minted Bored Apes from the Yuga Labs collection and sold 9,500 of these NFTs for a total of almost $1.6 million.

Yuga Labs said that doing so was a type of trademark infringement that could lead potential buyers astray. Even though Ripps’s “harassment campaign based on false charges of racism” was often mentioned, there were no defamation claims in the case.

The lawyer for Ripps and Cahen says that using BAYC logos is appropriation and that Ripps didn’t mean to trick people who might buy BAYC products into buying his own NFTs.

The RR/BAYC team’s website says that the group was made to use “satire and appropriation to protest and educate people regarding The Bored Ape Yacht Club and the framework of NFTs.”

In their motion to dismiss the case, Ripps and Cahen say that their use of appropriated artwork was done to achieve the following goals: “(1) to bring attention to Yuga’s use of racist and neo-Nazi messages and imagery, (2) to expose Yuga’s use of unwitting celebrities and popular brands to disseminate offensive material, (3) to create social pressure demanding that Yuga take responsibility for its actions, and (4) to educate the public about the technical nature and utility of NFTs.”

In an email, Louis Tompros of WilmerHale, who is representing Ripps and Cahen, said that they will be asking for costs and attorney’s fees.

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