The phenomena of teleportation seen in Sci-Fi Movies and shows are now becoming a reality. With the help of a Virtual headset or other wearable technologies, one can easily step into an entirely different universe without even having to leave the room.
Imagine meeting friends living across the borders instantly in a new world just by sitting in the comfort of your home or working in the office without actually stepping into one or even shopping for products in real-time without even leaving the room. What seemed like a distant possibility is now becoming a new truth.
It certainly has opened the doors for new markets for different businesses to capitalize on. Trademarks for business are one of the key aspects to generate and interacting with potential customers. So if one is planning to launch their products into the metaverse how does one go about it? The following article offers some insight into trademarks in the metaverse.
What is Metaverse?
The meaning of the term metaverse is beyond the universe. It was a term coined in a fictional novel in 1992 called Snow Crash written by Neal Stephenson, who described the metaverse as an “all-encompassing digital world”.
The metaverse is a kind of virtual reality that is similar to gaming platforms in that it enables interaction with a computer-generated setting. A network of 3D virtual settings focused on social connections makes up this digital simulation.
Since non-fungible tokens and the underlying technology have become more prevalent, the market value of digital assets has soared. Every industry, from e-commerce to gaming, has started to venture into the metaverse to discover the countless possibilities it presents.
How is it created?
Since the word metaverse has created enough buzz, especially after the social media giant Facebook renamed itself, Meta, it does make one curious what the possible technologies used to create a world artificially which would give one an experience as close to that of the physical world or even better are.
It comprises elements of online gaming, social media interactions, virtual and augmented reality, and blockchain which allows users to interact using Avatars.
- Metaverse has already shown a glimpse of the numerous possibilities via the gaming world and has only evolved since then. Some of the features include-
- Creation of one own interactive digital avatar
- Decentralization allows the people in it to control the environment.
- Persistence is an important feature that allows users to visit it whenever they want.
Role of the Trademarks in the Metaverse
The term “metaverse” has generated enough excitement in the industry that a number of major internet companies and commodity brands have already begun investing in and developing goods that can be introduced in this virtual environment.
Similar to the physical world, companies preparing for launches in the virtual one would need to register their names, goods, slogans, and symbols. In the actual world, as we know it, one must fill out an application for a trademark at the trademark office depending on the classification of the items.
Although the metaverse is not a new concept but has been gaining speed with top brands already lining up to trademark their products in the virtual market.
The trademark registry‘s database reveals that it is already being flooded with trademark applications for registering various marks related to trademarks. The sneaker firm Nike, Converse which is rumored to have already submitted trademark applications to the USPTO, is one of the first few brands to enter the market.
How to register for the trademarks in the Metaverse?
As the saying goes the early bird catches the worm, the same can be said in the case of registering the trademark in the upcoming world. It is important that companies and businesses in the real world or the virtually created world need to register their trademark as soon as possible to reduce the chances of disputes and better protection of trademarks.
Steps to Register:
- Check for the availability of the mark.
- The next step is filing the application after the confirmation that no similar mark exists in the trademark office.
- The validity is then checked by the trademark officials.
- Monitor the progress of the mark for any possibility of dispute and if no error is discovered then the process moves towards being mentioned in the official gazette.
- In case of disputes, the opposition can be filed by the parties in 30 days to oppose the trademark.
- Once the objections are removed and the disputes in case of are settled the trademark can be finally registered in the metaverse.
Challenges for trademarks in the Metaverse:
A number of problems have arisen for trademark users and owners even if the virtual world and augmented reality have given businesses new options to increase their industry growth and, therefore, their customer and client base.
Owing to the territorial character of trademark awards, a trademark secured in India would only offer legal protection there. As the metaverse concurrently creates a distinct virtual world, the lines between nations are growing fuzzier.
For the names, brands, and characters they create for this virtual environment, technology businesses must seek legal protection. The laws have not yet been revised to address the evolving demands that the metaverse is generating.
Other Challenges include:
Data and its security– A concern alike in both the real and virtual world are the first to be addressed. With the integration of metaverse into everyday lives, there are threats that revolve around data and its security, and identity protection of individuals and companies interacting with a strong security system in place to keep all the data safe is required.
Safety– Since the technology is still in its refining process the challenge of the safety of its user is an important matter of concern. Hacking, cyberbullying, and the possibility of the occurrence of crimes in the virtual world cannot be underestimated.
As it offers a real-world experience in a virtually constructed environment it is important to have enough safety measures which is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
Interoperability– At the moment interoperability is crucial as it will allow the businesses or vendors to better interact with the different virtual worlds. Although presently it is at a developmental stage yet to explore its true potential such as accessing the Metaverse from any device.
The Legal Standing of the Trademark in India and Other Countries-
Since the Metaverse concept is still in its infancy and the current legal framework has not yet been revised, there is misunderstanding and a plethora of applications from right holders.
The use of third-party trademarks from the real world has repeatedly arisen as a problem at the nexus of the virtual and physical worlds. Trademark infringement is getting more prevalent. The simplest but most efficient way to do this would be to update the Nice Classification which presently offers protection for trademarks under classes 1 to 34 and for services in classes 35 to 45 and add the option of selecting virtual or real-world to the existing product or service categories. Some of the Indian companies to make their trademarks in the metaverse are Tanishq, MakeMyTrip, and Mahindra &Mahindra.
USA and UK:
Since trademark laws are exempt from the DMCA, each instance of infringement must be handled separately. It is designed to encourage the creation of legal regulations controlling trademarks in the metaverse because many businesses may find this to be expensive and time-consuming.
The UK’s trademark protection provisions for physical goods do not yet apply to virtual goods. Therefore, brands will want to make sure that the security they enjoy in the physical world also holds in the virtual Metaverse.
Metaverse offers incredible possibilities in a parallel world which are very exciting and come with their own share of challenges. As of now only a handful of people or businesses are using metaverse. In order to succeed in the existing market, the metaverse needs to prove its usefulness and accessibility to people’s time and money. The lack of regulations for the Metaverse needs to be worked on.
It is impossible to dismiss the significant influence the Metaverse will have on our daily lives. By enabling us to exist outside of reality, the metaverse would enable us to live out the imaginations we cannot realize in our daily lives.
- Michael Kondouis “trademarks and the metaverse: the ultimate guide” https://www.mekiplaw.com/how-to-protect-brands-in-the-metaverse-the-ultimate-guide/
- Lynn Lazaro & Ors (2022 Aug 09th) “registration of TM in Metaverse” https://www.mondaq.com/india/trademark/1219658/registration-of-trademarks-operating-in-the-metaverse
- SpicyIP(2022 May 18th) “TM and Metaverse: Imaginary rights or real wrongs” https://spicyip.com/2022/05/trademarks-and-the-metaverse-imaginary-rights-or-real-wrongs.html
- Priyanka Nimje & Ors “All about TM in Metaverse: IP in the virtual world” https://sagaciousresearch.com/blog/all-about-trademarks-in-metaverse-ip-in-the-virtual-world