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Hangzhou Internet Court: NFT digital collection belongs to the network virtual property, protected by law

via:新浪科技     time:2022/12/5 15:01:30     readed:210

Thepaper.cn reporter Fang Xiao

· "As virtual works of art, NFT digital collection itself embodies the creative expression of art by the creator, which has the value of relevant intellectual property rights. At the same time, the NFT digital Collection is a unique digital asset formed on the blockchain based on the trust and consensus mechanism between the nodes. Therefore, the NFT digital collection falls under the category of virtual property."

Hangzhou Internet Court recently heard a dispute over an information network sales contract caused by the trading of NFT (non-homogeneous token) digital collections, according to the public account of Hangzhou Internet Court. The plaintiff claimed more than 90,000 yuan because the "NFT digital collection blind box" was refunded. The court ruled that the plaintiff's personal information was incorrectly filled in and the lawsuit was dismissed.

After hearing, the court held that NFT digital collection has the object characteristics of property rights such as value, scarcity, disposable, tradability, and at the same time, it also has the unique attributes of network virtual property such as network virtuality and technology, and belongs to network virtual property.

Case: The personal information was filled in incorrectly

The defendant, A digital technology company in Hangzhou (hereinafter referred to as "Company A"), operates an e-commerce platform specializing in digital art sales, and the plaintiff, surnamed Wang (pseudonym), is a user of the platform.

In February this year, A company issued a buying notice through the above platform, saying that a "NFT digital collection blind box" will be sold in limited quantities. The announcement records the price, buying time, limited purchase quantity and other sale details, and attached to the purchase channel QR code. Notice at the bottom of the notice, the need to fill in the same as the real name authentication mobile phone number, and one mobile phone number can only be snapped up one. The platform will eliminate invalid orders without real-name authentication or incorrect filling of personal information, and refund the invalid orders forcibly.

The plaintiff, surnamed Wang, said that he snapped up A "NFT digital collection blind box" issued by A company through the purchase channels publicized by the announcement, and paid 999 yuan after filling in his mobile phone number and personal information. However, A company has not delivered the goods, and forced a refund to Wang 10 days later. Wang Mou thinks that A company's action infringes its legitimate rights and interests, so appeal to the court, ask A company to perform the contract, if not perform, then compensate its loss 99,999 yuan.

The defendant company A argued that in order to prevent some users from buying digital collections abnormally by using the plug-in software, and to help users better understand the rules of buying, the platform specially issued a buying notice before the sale of goods, with notes. Because the mobile phone number and part of the ID number that Wang filled in when placing the order did not match the actual information, the platform will refund the money. Company A believes that the contract is not concluded, even if the contract is established, it has been terminated according to the agreement, and the plaintiff has accepted the refund without actual loss. Moreover, the digital blind box has been sold out and cannot continue to perform the contract.

Referee: Reject Wang Mou lawsuit request

The court heard that the transaction object is NFT digital collection, rather than NFT certificate of interest. The special feature of this case is that the subject matter of the transaction between the two parties is NFT digital collection, so it is necessary to confirm the legal attribute of NFT digital collection first.

NFT digital collection has the object characteristics of property rights such as value, scarcity, disposable and tradability, and also has the unique attributes of network virtual property such as network virtuality and technology. It belongs to network virtual property. The contract involved in this case should be protected by the law of our country and not violate the law of our country and the realistic policy and supervision guidance of preventing economic financial risk.

Although the buying announcement issued by Company A is an invitation to offer in form, the sale details, purchase channels and matters to be noted in the announcement meet the constituent elements of the offer. When Wang chooses the digital commodity blind box through the purchase channel provided by the announcement, the above contents can be regarded as an offer made by Company A to a specific counterpart. When Mr. Wang makes a "commitment" by successfully submitting the order, the above contents shall constitute a part of the contract between the parties, and there is no invalid circumstance, which shall be binding on both parties.

It is clear in the announcement that Company A has the right to rescind the contract in case of no real-name authentication or incorrect filling in of personal information. From the details of the order submitted by Wang, the fourth digit of his mobile phone number and the sixth digit of his ID card do not meet the requirements, which belongs to the case of filling in the wrong personal information. A company will return the money paid by Wang, which belongs to the exercise of the contract to terminate the specific performance. Wang Mou request to continue to perform the contract, no corresponding contract and legal basis, the court does not support. As there is no breach of contract or violation of law in A company's refund to Wang Mou, Wang Mou's alternative lawsuit request for 99,999 yuan compensation for a certain digital technology company in Hangzhou has no corresponding facts and legal basis, and the court did not support it.

In the end, the court rejected Wang's claim.

"NFT Digital Collection should be protected by law"

Hangzhou Internet Court public account published the "judge's statement" on the case:

NFT digital collection trading is an emerging industry with the development of digital economy. Regarding the legal property of NFT digital collection, there are no clear provisions in Chinese law at present. The nature of digital collection trading, how to apply the law, and whether the contract termination clauses unilaterally issued by digital collection e-commerce operators constitute invalid clauses or breach of contract should be clarified through the judgment.

As virtual works of art, NFT digital collection itself embodies the original expression of art by the creator, which has the value of relevant intellectual property rights. At the same time, the NFT digital Collection is a unique digital asset formed on the blockchain based on the trust and consensus mechanism between the nodes. Therefore, the NFT digital collection belongs to the category of virtual property.

The new virtual property of NFT digital collection should be protected by the laws of our country. The subject matter of the transaction transferred in this case is virtual network property, which is different from tangible or intangible objects in general sales contracts. From the point of view of the transaction performance of both parties, it conforms to the form of the information network sales contract. In the case that the NFT digital collection transaction conforms to the performance of the information network sale contract, it can be regulated in accordance with the relevant provisions of Chinese laws on the information network sale contract.

In this case, the transaction involved is carried out through the Internet information, and the NFT digital collection belongs to the network virtual property, which belongs to the category of digital commodities. The transaction involved in this case is the business activity of selling digital commodities through Internet information, which belongs to the category of e-commerce and should be regulated by the E-commerce Law.

As to whether the "content of NFT digital collection operator's unilateral termination right through standard terms" disputed by both parties is legal and valid, it is necessary to make a comprehensive investigation based on legal provisions, industrial compliance requirements and specific needs of individual cases. When the NFT digital collection operators enjoy the right to unilaterally rescind the contract, it is based on the mandatory provisions of the relevant laws, on the prevention of the NFT digital collection trading risk, on the practical policy regulatory guidance to promote the NFT digital collection trading compliance operation, and on the practical need of the NFT digital collection platform management and consumer protection. It has the legitimacy and rationality, and should confirm the legitimacy of the relevant standard provisions.

It should be pointed out that when the contract termination agreement made by the NFT digital collection operator through the standard terms is not legitimate, it is not practical for the user to require the continued performance or bear the cost of the third party to replace the performance. Due to the "non-homogeneity" of NFT digital collection, each NFT digital collection is unique and cannot be duplicated. Once it is sold, there is no realistic feasibility to continue the performance or replace the performance by a third party. Meanwhile, since NFT digital collection transactions rely on blockchain technology and smart contract technology, the time, price and information of both buyers and sellers of each transaction can be traced back and cannot be tamper with. Under the condition that every transaction of each NFT digital collection is verifiable, the loss of breach of contract in NFT digital collection transaction is calculated compared with the loss of breach of contract in general sales contract. More intuitive, accurate, convenient and efficient.

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