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Understanding Trademarks in the Metaverse

As the online marketplace embraces virtual content of all kinds, from the latest NFTs to popular gaming “loot boxes”, the need for brands to understand – and navigate – this growing market is more important than ever.

What’s more, when it comes to managing brand strategies and business assets, how to protect yourself in the metaverse with IP has become a key issue for many brands – with the biggest names seeking virtual and physical protection.

It’s clear businesses are catching up – but when it comes to trademarks, what can they do to stay safe in the metaverse? Let’s take a look.

For brands and IP advocates, we all know the basic premise of what a trademark is. Generally denoting a name, sign or logo affiliated with a business or product, they are what makes a brand unique and recognisable – forming a business’ very essence and “shop front” for consumers.

When registered in the relevant class(es) of goods – i.e. what you sell, produce and work within – they are an incredibly powerful IP asset, protecting your name against would-be copycats. Furthermore, unlike other IP types it can be renewed indefinitely, making it a constant part of your brand identity and asset portfolio. This we know in existing IP law – but what about virtual goods?

Unfortunately, as many brands have found to their cost, with well-documented disputes involving the likes of Hermès and Nike, when it comes to the metaverse – existing trademark protection may not be so simple.

Indeed, with NFT creators in particular, using brand names and logos to promote their own virtual creations, many businesses have been left in a reputational bid for virtual supremacy, fighting to counteract unauthorised digital use of their IP and image. It’s an ongoing battle but, as the Intellectual Property Helpdesk shows, not yet in favour of brands – with existing registered classes, as of now, generally limited to their “physical” nature.

So what does this mean – and how can brands help themselves now?

While the IP sphere considers whether to modernise their classification system, many brands have already taken the initiative by expanding their trademarks – including classes 9, 35 and 41 (which cover more general goods and services) – to ensure “virtual” protection today.

Need help fighting back?

As always, with the right IP we can help you fight copycats in the metaverse and the real world, ensuring your brand, goods and consumers are rightly protected.

From marketplace monitoring (including NFT open source platforms) to fully tailored brand protection solutions, we work with you and your portfolio to provide the best possible cover against online wrongdoers.

If you’d like a helping hand or simply want to know more, feel free to give us a call or request a brand check here.


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