Metaverse is the new buzzword in town. With Metaverse comes a new market for businesses to sell their products and services. It is a new way for businesses to interact with their customers. Many famous brands such as Walmart have already understood the potential of Metaverse and applied for Trademark registration for virtual products. Walmart has applied for the registration in multiple jurisdictions, including in India. Every brand, whether they are first in line or whether they join Metaverse later, are going to have to become a part of it eventually. Metaverse is set out to change how we interact with people and products; it’s the new age of ecommerce.
While there is a lot to look forward to, there are also concerns. One of the main concerns is with regards to intellectual property rights in the Metaverse, specifically trademark protection.
What is Metaverse
The first question that comes to mind is what exactly is the Metaverse. The Metaverse is a 3D digital world that’s being created by Facebook. It’s the new version of the internet where instead of just interacting with websites, we interact with people and businesses within the virtual world using AI. For businesses, it’s essential a new and vast digital marketplace.
Understanding Trademark Protection
Trademark registration is the process of registering a company’s logo, phrase or brand name. Trademark registration lets people protect their brand from unauthorised use by a third party. Trademark protection is generally geographical, what this means is that the protection is only valid within the area it’s registered. For example, if a trademark is registered in India, generally it will only have trademark protection in India
Trademark issues in the Metaverse
There are many Trademark issues that rise within the Metaverse. Some of them are:
- Trademark registration only grants trademark protection within a specific place, for example, the Indian Trademark Registry grants trademark protection to trademarks within India. Since the Metaverse is arguably a new location, it’s possible that the existing registered trademarks may be used by someone else within Metaverse. This is one of the biggest Trademark issues that the Metaverse brings. This might be especially problematic for smaller brands as they do not have the resources to keep track of who and where is using their brand on the Metaverse. In a country like India where even the concept of Trademark registration is new to many business owners, trademark infringement within the Metaverse is something that they likely aren’t even thinking of at the moment.
- Further, Trademark Registration requires you to specify which class the product of service is being registered under. When it comes to the Metaverse, this seemingly easy decision has become very complex. The first issue that arises is with defining if the Trademark is for a product or service. For example, if you sell an AI dress on the Metaverse, it’s a product within the Metaverse, but in reality it is a service that lets your virtual version wear a certain type of clothing. The second issue is with defining which class the product should be registered under.
Currently there have been applications for Trademark registration for ‘Downloadable Virtual Goods’ with the Indian Registry under classes 9, 35 and 41. Big brands like Nike have started filing for Trademark registration for virtual assets within their specific jurisdictions. Due to a lack of established rules, currently each governing body is making decisions on a case to case basis.
Tips for existing brand owners
Even though the rules are still unclear, every brand owner needs to take steps to ensure their brand is protected. If you’re a brand owner, here are some tips for you:
- The first and most important tip is to register your trademark. Trademark registration can serve as proof of ownership to stop someone else from using your brand logo, phrase or symbol.
- The second is that if you see any Trademark infringement on the Metaverse, instantly report to the site. Generally the site will ask you to provide proof of ownership. This is where the Trademark registration papers can be especially helpful.
- The Metaverse has its own rules and doesn’t allow for every infringement to be actionable.Taking the help of legal professionals in identifying how to go ahead when you come across any Trademark infringement can be extremely helpful.
- Yourself creating a profile and promoting your brand on Metaverse can also be a great way to ensure that you can bring claims if anyone tries to use your brand.
- Signing up for trademark tracker services can also be helpful. These are online services that keep track of where your trademark is being used and notify you in case of any infringement.
Currently, due to how new the Metaverse is, the rules of Trademark registration and protection are still blurry. However, with Metaverse becoming commonplace, these rules are also bound to get standardised. WIPO is currently considering the limits of its right to regulate the Metaverse. Meanwhile however, we recommend brand owners to take the necessary steps to protect their brands.
Read More: Advantages of Watermelon for a Better Life