NFTs and the Metaverse: Is your brand protected?
By now you have probably heard the terms “NFT” (non-fungible token), “metaverse,” and “web3” used in everyday conversation. Although you may not fully understand exactly what they are, or why people and businesses are investing (in some cases) millions of dollars, they are increasingly becoming an important part of popular culture. For instance, while major companies like Visa and Adidas have recently bought NFTs for significant 6-figure sums, other major brands like Nike, Hot Wheels, GAP, and Walmart have signaled their intent to offer their own NFTs and/or join the metaverse in recent trademark filings with the U.S.P.T.O. Regardless of industry, all types of businesses should be keeping an eye on this emerging technology and how to best protect their brands in the metaverse and beyond.
Intellectual property rights in NFTs and the metaverse are already taking center stage with notable copyright disputes and trademark infringement cases recently filed. Many more are likely to follow. While tried and true IP enforcement tactics will likely continue to be deployed (such as DMCA takedown notices), novel strategies and mechanisms to combat infringement and counterfeiting in the new decentralized world of NFTs, the metaverse, and web3 must emerge. The Sladkus Law Group has already begun working with clients on developing enforcement strategies and will continue to be on the front lines.
In the meantime, some pre-emptive measures to consider include:
- filing intent-to-use trademark applications if you or your company has a bona fide intent to offer NFTs or other goods/services in the metaverse;
- proactive domain name registration for new domain names relating to the metaverse;
- proactive ENS (Ethereum Name Service) registrations;
- familiarization with NFT platform takedown and IPR reporting procedures; and
- trademark monitoring covering popular NFT platforms and/or the metaverse.
As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Although it is impossible to plan for all contingencies, based on the recent matters we have worked on regarding these very issues, prophylactic measures are warranted. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time to discuss how we can help you protect your brand – and do not forget to review our website and social media pages for further important updates!