The company attempted to prevent its founders from being required to give a deposition but their request was denied.
Last week, Yuga Labs, the creator of the popular Bored Ape NFT, filed a motion in an effort to avoid being required to give depositions in a lawsuit over copycat NFTs. The motion was filed on January 8th.The motion stated that Yuga Labs’ co-founders, Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano, should be immune to depositions. However, the court denied the motion, stating that the company did not have enough evidence to support their request. This means that the co-founders of Yuga Labs will have to be deposed and questioned by the attorney of one of the company’s most vocal critics, artist Ryder Ripps. The company had attempted to silence Ripps by filing a trademark infringement suit against him, rather than copyright infringement or defamation, in order to prevent him from turning the case into a debate about the duplication of NFTs or a showcase of his allegations. However, this approach has put the company on a different legal path.
Who is Ryder Ripps?
Ripps is a New York City-based conceptual artist who previously held a controversial solo exhibition, “Ho,” at the Postmasters Gallery. The exhibition, which featured oil paintings based on model Adrienne Ho’s Instagram posts, sparked controversy and an anonymous death threat. In addition to his art career, Ripps is the founder of the online art community dump.fm and the Creative Director of digital agency OKFocus, which works with clients such as Nike and Bruno Mars.
More recently, Ripps has gained attention in the wider web3 ecosystem, due to a dispute involving Yuga Labs.
Yuga Labs takes aim at Ryder Ripps
In early 2022, artist Ryder Ripps accused Yuga Labs, the creator of the popular Bored Ape NFTs, of intentionally including hidden pro-Nazi imagery in their NFTs. This claim was made after a web3 industry figure, Phillion, released a video arguing that Yuga Labs’ branding closely resembled and was influenced by Nazi symbols.
In May, Ripps created and sold a collection of 10,000 copycat Apes as a form of protest against the legality and ethics of the Bored Apes NFTs. This led to Yuga Labs filing a lawsuit against him, as the company took issue with his actions. This legal dispute came at an unfortunate time for Yuga Labs, as they were approaching the one-year anniversary of the launch of their NFTs.
Court Rules Yuga Labs Founders To Be Deposed In The Lawsuit
Last week, Yuga Labs’ legal team filed a lawsuit in a federal court in California, attempting to prevent the lawyers of Ryder Ripps from deposing the company’s co-founders, Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano, in court proceedings. The company’s legal team argued that as the co-founders are high-level corporate employees, they should be considered “apex witnesses” and therefore be exempt from deposition if other lower-level employees can provide the same information.
This week, a federal judge dismissed the case brought by Yuga Labs against artist Ryder Ripps, stating that the arguments presented were “deficient on the merits.” The judge stated that Yuga’s co-founders could speak about the origins of the Bored Ape mark. The judge also criticized Yuga Labs for their “lack of diligence,” citing their failure to respond to several requests by Ripps’ counsel to schedule depositions. As a result, the court ordered Yuga’s co-founders to submit to depositions at the earliest possible date.According to Ripps, co-founder Wylie Aronow did not appear for his scheduled deposition on January 9th, and he may face consequences for his defiance.
🚨 The court has ruled that Wylie Aronow (@GordonGoner) and Greg Solano (@CryptoGarga) of @YugaLabs are not "Apex Witnesses", they in fact have to be deposed.— RYDER RIPPS 🔜 (@ryder_ripps) January 9, 2023
Wylie is not attending his ordered deposition today, he is now in violation of the court. 🚨https://t.co/ZEddItXPaz
Despite having a scheduled medical appointment on January 11, 2023, the court has ordered Greg Solano, co-founder of Yuga Labs, to give a deposition via video on that day.
Yuga labs are also being sued for celebrity endorsement of their BAYC NFTs.