‘What on earth is the metaverse?’
‘I still don’t know what NFTs are.’
‘Do NFTs have value?’
Everything about technological society is growing and so are the questions about the virtual world. If you don’t know, get to know, because the metaverse market has been predicted to be worth $800 billion by 2024. The various uncertainties attached to a new, burgeoning market has not stopped big and small players alike from investing in its potential. A year on from our first ever NFT article, countless multinationals have filed trademark applications for their NFTs, from American fast food chain McDonald’s to French cosmetics giant L’Oreal and renowned energy drink company Monster Energy. Everyone wants a piece of the metaverse, so much so that an NFT vending machine has been set up in the financial district in Manhattan, New York.
The metaverse market is exciting but also developing at lightning speed, a phenomenon which puts forward a host of legal concerns. Businesses may find it tricky to establish and enforce legal rights in the virtual world when it comes to protecting their digital assets, particularly in areas such as branding and licensing. Companies may also find themselves infringing upon third party IP in the metaverse — an issue faced by sneaker trading platform Stock X who has been taken to court by sportswear company Nike.
Businesses looking to enter the metaverse must understand the in-and-outs of intellectual property rights before establishing themselves in the market. Trademark rights in the virtual world must be taken seriously by way of crafting an IP strategy and registering relevant logos and trademarks for goods and services existing in the metaverse, such as downloadable virtual products and digital collectibles.
For example, American lingerie company Victoria’s Secret filed an application in early February with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The filing includes the protection of trademarks for downloadable virtual goods such as computer programs for the creation and trade of digital collectibles using blockchain-based consensus protocols and smart contracts, featuring information in areas such as fashion and style.
Famed for their annual fashion show, Victoria’s Secret has suffered from poor public opinion in recent years with accusations of promoting a harmful body image for women. Rebranding has been the ultimate priority for the company since the cancellation of the 2019 VS Fashion Show. Staking a claim in the virtual world might just be the right business decision for Victoria’s Secret as the company could rebuild its image via fresh digital offerings.
‘Any brand should be filing for its trademark in the metaverse right now,’ reports fashion lawyer Anthony Lupo in an interview with Vogue Business. Despite the lack of clear cut laws and regulations in the metaverse, businesses are encouraged to take a defensive stance to protect their rights before it’s too late.
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