Protection of Intellectual Property (IP) in the Metaverse
With the Metaverse and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) being the common buzzwords as of late, the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) has been experiencing a significant rise in the number of Trademark Applications filed in the virtual sphere to safeguard the products and services.
The dramatic rise in e-commerce in the last two decades saw many brand and business owners struggling to safeguard their Intellectual Property (IP) assets in cyberspace, starting from domain names and then going onto social media handles. At present, with the immense growth of interconnectivity, along with digital experiences creating augmented reality and virtual reality, many digital marketers and technology experts have given the term ‘Metaverse’ to these new spheres of human interaction. To put it straightforwardly, the Metaverse refers to an immersive digital space in which users interact with different people and things by using digital avatars. This new sphere or market provides offers and is very much likely to expand upon the new ways for multiple industries and sectors to increase scalability, including new business opportunities and ways of promoting products and services at an even faster pace. NFTs may refer to the digital goods or specific pieces sold in the Metaverse. However, NFTs, in general, refer to the data stored on a blockchain for authenticating and keeping track of the digital property. These are non-fungible, implying that they are unique and can never be replaced by something. Therefore, an NFT can refer to a digital art piece or can be linked to a physical product for proving the authenticity or ownership of the said product.
These latest developments in the digital economy have an important feature of interoperability, which means that consumers can conveniently move virtual items like cars or clothes from one platform to some other. When we talk about the real world, a consumer can buy a sports team jersey online or at some mall and then wear it at home, to a restaurant, or at some sports event. On the contrary, in the virtual landscape, an outfit could be purchased and worn by an avatar on more than one platform. Furthermore, the purchase of virtual products and services could be used in multiple virtual worlds.
Considering such new scenarios, brand and business owners must craft robust IP strategies for leveraging business models and innovations. In the Metaverse, protectable IP assets vary from copyright to trademark, including slogans, logos, brand names, and trade dress in the form of design and packaging, and even Patent Protection for inventions. In this scenario, business companies should conduct an in-depth analysis of the virtual landscape where they have plans to market and promote their products and services to figure out whether or not they even want to do business in the Metaverse.
IP Challenges in the Metaverse
With globalization and collateral global market developments in almost every other field, like the development of banking systems and payments, there will always be challenges to the well-established legal precedents. Due to the new virtual landscapes, changes in IP laws are inevitable. In this aspect, many legal questions must be resolved, including:
- Could a trademark be widely recognized in the Metaverse and not in the physical reality?
- What will the future trademark licensing deals in the Metaverse look like?
- How will trademark franchising deals and other business collaboration models be executed in the Metaverse?
- What will be the approach for the protection of trademark, copyright, and patent when the virtual worlds are combined with the physical world’s visual appearances?
Taking a Step Ahead: Points of Consideration
Business companies and firms should undoubtedly register and safeguard their IP assets in the sphere of the interconnected virtual reality for the legal and commercial reasons given below:
- Brand Protection, Management & Enforcement
Depending on their business models and future product strategies, business companies and firms should adopt a proactive approach and accordingly update their overall IP Protection strategy or Trademark Protection strategy, in particular for the brand name. As more brands and businesses are opting to operate in the Metaverse, brand monitoring expenditures for spotting fraudulent or invalid use of trademarks are very much likely to keep rising. It is pretty early at this moment to figure out how brand protection, management, and enforcement shall evolve in the Metaverse. However, inevitably, e-commerce in the Metaverse or virtual sphere will involve the fraudulent or invalid use of trademarks by third parties in a deceivingly similar or identical way. If a company or a firm is already operating in the Metaverse or is looking forward to doing the same, it should anticipate the given potential risks by registering its trademarks for use in the virtual world. By doing so, business companies and firms shall have a better picture in their minds and enforce their Trademark Rights well in case the prospect of litigation arises.
- A Comprehensive Approach to IPRs
Associated with brand enforcement, the beginning of the Metaverse emphasizes the importance of paying due attention to Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) comprehensively. Without any second thoughts, the primary offerings in the Metaverse, along with the business models, highlight the interconnectivity of IPRs more than ever before. As its primary core asset, a virtual business may have a virtual product design, the different aspects of which may require protection under different IP laws, including trademark, copyright, and industrial design. For obtaining beyond doubt ownership of such a virtual product design, specifically in the legal environment, IP protection must be carefully considered and dealt with diligently.
- Market Reach & Presence
When we consider the aspect of marketing and the sales strategy, as soon as a company decides to operate in the Metaverse and proceeds to safeguard its assets in the virtual sphere, it will understand that such marketing holds immense potential for reaching out to new worldwide consumers at an unprecedented pace. Due to such new platforms, business companies and firms shall have a new tool for making their brand globally recognizable and well-established. Brand awareness tools monitoring and safeguarding the trademark rights across the globe will be essential in this scenario. ✅ For more visit: https://www.kashishipr.com/