Do you have the appropriate protection of your trademarks and designs in the Metaverse?
The following shall provide an introduction and guidance to trademark and design protection in the Metaverse.
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is an immersive, constant 3D virtual world which parallels our physical world and in which users can interact through an avatar, i.e. a virtual character representing them. In this virtual digital space, it is possible to perform nearly all activities that are known from the real non-digital universe.
The Metaverse will provide a new virtual market for goods and services. It will give users the opportunity to buy, sell and share digital products, such as accessories for avatars, games, digital artworks, tickets for digital entertainment events, e-learning contents, etc. Companies will be able to open virtual retail shops, offering i.a. virtual product demonstrations, and will be given new ways to advertise their products.
Entering the Metaverse may enable companies to reach new consumers, to reinforce brand awareness and to increase their sales not only for virtual goods but also for their physical products.
While the Metaverse is still in its early stages of development and may not be familiar to many of us, an extra-ordinary expansion of this virtual world is expected in the next few years. Hence forward thinking companies must be prepared to adapt their business strategies.
How to prepare for the Metaverse?
Companies should consider developing a strategy to promote their trademarks and their products in the Metaverse. In particular, they may create a presence in the Metaverse, e.g. in opening a virtual retail shop for their products and/or in organizing virtual product placements.
In parallel, it is important for companies to adapt/enlarge their trademark protection in making sure that their trademarks are registered for digital and virtual reality products. This applies not only to companies which are considering developing a presence in the Metaverse, but also to those companies which want to prevent fraudulent use of their trademarks in the Metaverse.
Especially companies active in the fields of fashion, gaming, entertainment and/or in the retail business should check their trademark portfolio and secure trademark protection for virtual goods and services.
What are the relevant Nice classes to cover metaverse-related goods and services?
Metaverse-related goods and services are classified in accordance with the usual criteria of the Nice classification.
The main classes are class 09 (for all digital files and virtual goods), class 35 (for all marketing and retail services), class 41 (for entertainment services) and class 42 (for IT services).
Are Design rights available for virtual designs?
For companies creating designs in the form of graphic symbols (icons – static or dynamic, graphic user interfaces (GUIs), screen displays, holograms, animated characters, virtual spaces, video games, etc.) to be used in the virtual environment of the Metaverse, a specific protection as a registered design will also be of advantage. As an example, designs of screen displays and icons, graphic user interfaces and other kinds of visible elements of a computer program fall under class 14-04 of the Locarno classification.
The development of the Metaverse will give rise to a myriad of new legal issues related to trademark and design rights. At this stage, many questions remain unanswered, so that some legal uncertainty is expected. In this context, an adequate enlarged trademark protection offers a solid legal position to effectively enforce trademark rights in the Metaverse and may contribute to anticipating potential challenges.
We at MÜLLER FOTTNER STEINECKE are at your disposal for any further details or advice.
MÜLLER FOTTNER STEINECKE
Rechtsanwälte PartmbB – Elisenstraße 3, 80335 München
Tel.: +49 (0)89 54 59 33 0 – Fax: +49 (0)89 54 59 33 90
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