Other than Tarantino’s Reserved Rights (i.e., rights to the “soundtrack album, music publishing, live performance, print publication (including without limitation screenplay publication, making of books, comic books and novelization, in audio and electronic formats as well, as applicable), interactive media, theatrical and television sequel and remake rights, and television series and spinoff rights”), Miramax claims that it acquired “all rights (including all copyrights and trademarks) in and to the [Pulp Fiction] film (and all elements thereof in all stages of development and production)” from Tarantino and producer Lawrence Bender in 1993. Miramax further contends that Tarantino’s Reserved Rights were “a narrowly-drafted, static exception to Miramax’s broad, catch-all rights” and “do not contain any forward-looking language.” Miramax also claims copyright registrations related to the film as well as registered and unregistered trademark rights in the mark PULP FICTION. Examples of Miramax’s use of the PULP FICTION marks are shown below.
Miramax claims that “Tarantino did not consult [with Miramax] regarding his sale of the Pulp Fiction NFTs,” and instead sought to “capitalize, unilaterally, on Miramax’s rights to Pulp Fiction.” When Tarantino refused to comply with Miramax’s cease and desist letter, Miramax brought this suit. Amongst other allegations (e.g. breach of contract, copyright infringement), Miramax claims that this behavior is “likely to cause confusion, mistake, and deception among the relevant consuming public as to the source of the Pulp Fiction NFTs, and have deceived and are likely to deceive the relevant consuming public into believing, mistakenly, that the Pulp Fiction NFTs originate from, are associated or affiliated with, or are otherwise authorized by Miramax.”
Tarantino’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, stated "Quentin Tarantino’s contract is clear: he has the right to sell NFTs of his hand-written script for 'Pulp Fiction' and this ham-fisted attempt to prevent him from doing so will fail… Miramax’s callous decision to disclose confidential information about its filmmakers’ contracts and compensation will irreparably tarnish its reputation long after this case is dismissed."
As illustrated, IP rights can be heavily intertwined with NFTs. For example, selling or making NFTs can implicate copyrights and trademark rights. Creators and sellers should make sure their actions do not infringe on the rights of others. They should check to see if there are trademark registrations for marks included in the material contained in the NFT. They should evaluate the material to determine the extent of copyrightable subject matter, review any agreements related to the material to determine ownership issues, and determine if they have the right to use the material as contemplated.