ABG hints at virtual shoes for Shaquille O’Neal in the future – Footwear News

Even Shaquille O’Neal jumps into the metaverse.

The former NBA star, in partnership with Authentic Brands Group, filed three trademark applications for the word “SHAQ” last month. According to the filings, these trademarks apply to items such as “virtual non-downloadable footwear, apparel, headgear, eyewear” and more “for use in virtual environments.”

Authentic Brands Group currently owns and manages O’Neal branded products. O’Neal is also currently the second largest individual shareholder in the company, which has made headlines for dozens of brand and retailer acquisitions, including Forever 21, Barneys New York and JCPenney.

“Just as you could buy a branded product in the real world that says ‘Shaq’ on it, now you can buy one in the virtual world,” explained trademark attorney Josh Gerben of the law firm Gerben.

Launching a virtual product line would be in line with O’Neal’s overarching goal of making his name “live on forever,” a reason he says prompted him to partner with ABG in the first place. In addition to owning various brands and retailers, ABG also owns the rights to various celebrities, including Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. ABG also filed trademarks in December for Elvis Presley and Sports Illustrated, indicating a desire to protect those trademarks in a new virtual domain as well.

“The existing registrations they have on these marks don’t cover virtual goods because virtual goods didn’t exist five or 10 years ago,” Gerben said, explaining why so many brands are filing trademarks for products and sentences in the virtual world. “No one really thought you might need protection on something like this.”

In recent months, ABG has doubled its expansion into the metaverse. Forever 21, which was acquired by ABG in 2020 after the fashion company went bankrupt in 2019, recently launched an exclusive partnership with Virtual Brand Group, a metaverse building company, which allows users to buy and sell Forever 21 products and to customize their own stores on the Roblox video game platform.

Other retail companies are also diving into the new realm. In December, Nike Inc. acquired RTFKT, a digital creator of virtual sneakers, collectibles and accessories. Prior to that, Nike filed seven trademark applications related to its goal of creating and selling virtual sneakers and apparel. It has also partnered with video game platform Roblox to launch “Nikeland”, a digital world for Nike fans to play games, log in and dress up their avatars in virtual clothing through a digital showroom, which includes products like the Air Force 1 and Nike Blazer. .

Adidas Originals recently released its first NFT (Non-Fungible Token) collection called “Into the Metaverse”. Owners of the NFTs received exclusive access to Adidas Originals experiences and merchandise, including virtual apparel for The Sandbox blockchain-based game world and other platforms, and an exclusive physical product to match.

“All brands will want to have some brand protection around products they might sell in the virtual world,” Gerben said. He also highlighted the revenue gains that come with the ability to produce and sell goods without factories or materials, and how virtual sales can boost purchases of durable goods in real life.

Other brands have also hinted that they may be making the virtual leap. Asked recently about the possibility of entering the metaverse, Yunah Lee, COO of the GOAT group, kept an open mind without revealing any upcoming news.

“Anything is possible,” Lee said at the company meeting. virtual presentation at the IC’s 24th Annual Conference on Wednesday. “NFT, Web 3.0, we continue to watch very closely and we believe these spaces will continue to converge.