Trade marks and the metaverse

Article  \  22 Nov 2021

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg revealed a new, ambitious vision for Facebook. The trillion-dollar social media company would transition to ’a metaverse company’ named ‘Meta’. This move indicates that the metaverse is something to keep an eye on, and it will perhaps play a dominant role in our future. Some are even claiming it is the next version of the internet. However, we will need to wait and see if it reaches these heights.

So, what is the metaverse? It can simply be described as a centralised virtual world, a ’place’ parallel to the physical world, where users (through digital avatars) can interact with each other in real time.

In this vast and immersive digital universe, users can buy digital assets including footwear and apparel, eat, talk, date, and more. This allows greater overlap between our digital and physical lives.

We have seen industry leading companies already start preparing for this virtual world.

Nike, Inc., the world’s most valuable apparel brand, has recently filed trade marks in the United States for key brands (including those for its “swoosh” logo and slogan ’Just Do It), covering virtual footwear and apparel.

Users within the metaverse will soon be able to buy digital assets for their avatars, including footwear, apparel, cars and more. This process will allow users to purchase virtual products which can be branded as ’real equivalents’.

Nike has applied to register its marks for ‘Downloadable virtual goods, namely, computer programs featuring footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear, bags, sports bags, backpacks, sports equipment, art, toys and accessories for use online and in online virtual worlds’ in class 9.

There is no specific mention of “virtual’ footwear and apparel in the Nice Classification (the international classification of goods and services). To account for increased interest in the metaverse, the Nice Classification will need to be updated to clarify whether virtual products are categorised in Class 9, or more correctly alongside their ’real life’ equivalents in class 25.

If you believe in the metaverse and would like to extend protection for your brands to cover “virtual products and services”, get in touch with one of our trade mark experts.