1 February 2022TrademarksAlex Baldwin

Lil Yachty sues music NFT startup over likeness

US rapper Lil Yachty has sued music non-fungible token (NFT) start-up Opulous for trademark infringement, alleging that the company “maliciously” used his likeness in media materials without his consent to raise capital.

In a complaint submitted to the US District Court for the Central District of California, Lil Yachty claims that Opulous managed to raise $6.5 million in funding “due in large part” to feigning their involvement with the artist.

Opulous, founded in part by UK-based music distributor Ditto, promises to bring “decentralised finance” to the music industry and provide “copyright-backed” NFTs. So far, the group has partnered with musicians Tyga and Lil Pump on NFT projects.

Lil Yachty and his management spoke with the company several times in May 2021, but “no agreement or deal terms” were reached, according to the complaint.

Despite this, Opulous launched a press and advertisement campaign associating Lil Yachty with an upcoming NFT drop in partnership with NFT marketplace Binance seven days after their last conference call with the rapper.

The campaign included a press release launched through its own website and a Twitter post featuring images of Lil Yachty and rapper SuperDuperKyle, which have subsequently been removed.

A press release promoting the drop by Binance said: “The exclusive NFT drops on Binance NFT, led by Lil Yachty…will give fans a taste of what to expect when Opulous rolls out its launchpad for music NFTs”.

The complaint said that neither Binance nor Opulous, were given consent to use Lil Yachty’s name, trademark or image in connection with advertisements, instead choosing to use them “in blatant and conscious disregard for plaintiff’s exclusive legal rights”.

Lil Yachty seeks damages, including “funds raised attributable to Defendants wrongful conduct”, paid attorney fees and injunctive relief.

NFTs and IP

Coming to prevalence in 2021 as the hot new crypto tech, both big brands and crypto-enthusiasts alike have jumped on the NFT bandwagon, guided by the promise of an all-encompassing digital “metaverse” virtual reality.

Currently, the legal rights attributable to NFTs are hazy, described generally as a “digital property right” rather than directly representing traditional intellectual property.

New NFT projects have been embroiled in high-profile lawsuits brought by brands for unauthorised usage of their IP.

Most recently, French luxury brand Hermès accused entrepreneur Mason Rothschild of ripping off the trademark of its famous ‘Birkin’ bags with its ‘MetaBirkins’ NFT project.

Last year also saw Miramax sue longtime collaborator Quentin Tarantino over his planned auctioning of NFTs related to "Pulp Fiction".

However, the NFT craze is likely to bring far more litigation throughout 2022. Thomas Daly, partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie told WIPR: “With several recent examples of NFTs selling for multi-million dollar figures, influencers and others are being drawn to the opportunity to generate significant value. However, with big money comes big litigation.”

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories sent like this straight to your inbox

Today’s top stories

Russian court revokes Samsung import ban amid patent row

The challenges of cryptocurrency, NFTs, and smart contracts on litigation

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

17 February 2022   The luxury brand’s lawsuit over non-fungible tokens heralds important questions for brand owners and artists over their IP rights in the metaverse, Joseph Barber of Howard & Howard Attorneys explains.
11 February 2022   Music anti-piracy group Digital Content Protection has launched new services to protect IP owners from infringement and fraud in the burgeoning non-fungible tokens space.
8 August 2022   Céline Cousteau faced trademark and publicity rights infringement claims over her film documentaries | Society set up to protect IP assets of the late oceanographer had accused her of misusing his trademarks and likeness.