What is the Metaverse?
For now and for the foreseeable future, the Metaverse can be explained as an immersive online experience that uses virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology and devices – theoretically, a world of unlimited imagination . Although many believe the Metaverse is the next generation of the Internet, it’s not a new concept. In fact, it’s been the subject of serious discussion and development for at least 10 years, building on a concept well-established in science fiction for decades.
Lately, the metaverse has gained more visibility because major tech companies, such as Meta (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft, have announced plans to develop new metaverse platforms for entertainment and work. This has spurred the enthusiasm of other industry players to develop ecosystems compatible with the major players’ metaverse visions, in a way that is increasingly accessible to general users. However, we have yet to see the creation of actual products and services, which will be needed for general users to truly understand this technology.
The industries most likely to experience an immediate impact from the metaverse are entertainment, gaming, education, and finance. Additionally, cryptocurrencies are likely to find widespread use in the metaverse ecosystem, giving this already growing industry a boost.
Amidst all of these changes, it will be crucial for anyone involved in the metaverse to understand the intellectual property rights (IPRs) associated with the digital components that make it up. This article will discuss the anticipated challenges and opportunities for IPR owners when it comes to the coming world of the Metaverse.
Opportunities for IPR holders
In the short term, there will likely be new opportunities for brand owners in the tech industry to develop AR and VR devices, improve their usability, and make them cheaper and more comfortable for longer use. There will also be more opportunities for AR-related devices to be used with a wider variety of items, such as glasses and other items that make AR and VR more accessible to general users.
As a result, there will also be new opportunities for IPRs in this area, such as new patents for device and software technologies. With new technologies, we will see the creation of new brands or product lines, and therefore new registered trademarks that can be used both in the physical and virtual world.
To fulfill their proper function in the immersive experience of the metaverse, these marks will likely be non-traditional (such as motion picture marks or sound marks), which will lead to an increase in the volume of protection afforded to these non-traditional marks. Additionally, it will be very important for intellectual property owners to consider the appropriate classification of these new marks as they will be used with new types of goods and services. For example, some existing trademark classifications that may apply to metaverse goods and services include Class 9 (downloadable virtual goods), Class 35 (retail store services featuring virtual goods), and Class 41 (services of online entertainment).
As new online platforms are created, there will be opportunities for new patentable technologies and copyright protection for software-related inventions and games, including patents for related technologies to blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
Breach Risk Management and Mitigation
As identifying and locating counterfeiters in the metaverse might be more difficult, more advanced investigative methods will be required. This risk applies to all classes of intellectual property assets in the metaverse. For example, the sale of copyrighted NFT artworks in the metaverse may consist of genuine and fake NFT artworks, and there may be risks of trademark infringement in the purchase and the sale of items on the virtual market. Patent infringement issues could also arise, as the technology development process could infringe metaverse-related patents, and potential trade secret misappropriation issues could arise in virtual meeting rooms hosting discussions of information. confidential.
These challenges and risks can be protected by proactive trademark registration for new types of products and services, especially non-traditional marks. Consistent use of a mark while doing business in the metaverse can create acquired distinctiveness, which can make a non-traditional mark registrable. Additionally, regular monitoring and research to gather evidence and identify patterns of online infringement can help bolster the development of new IP enforcement strategies.
Proactive application policies for the metaverse
Brand owners can retain control of their trademarks or copyrights by engaging in more advanced investigative methods tailored to identifying infringement risks in the metaverse. In addition to regular monitoring and research of potential infringements, virtual investigators (involving people, automated systems and artificial intelligence) will eventually need to be deployed to help IP owners track how their intellectual assets are used in the metaverse.
Essentially, the metaverse is made up of online services, and the main service providers may be located outside of the country where the breach occurs. A host server located outside the IPR holder’s country may pose online enforcement challenges, so each country’s laws may need to be analyzed individually to assess local notice and takedown procedures and blocking mechanisms of websites. This is, however, complicated by differences in the development of intellectual property law and practice in different jurisdictions. In some countries, enforcement of IP rights tends to be through administrative procedures, while in countries with more mature IP practices, court injunctions tend to be more common. and accessible. Either way, gathering evidence of infringement is a very important preliminary step, and it may be more efficient to focus on full trademark and patent prosecutions in countries with a large number of users. .
The Future of IPRs in the Metaverse
Intellectual property appears to have a promising future in the metaverse, which will usher in new types of non-traditional marks, new goods and services encompassing a range of brand classifications, and new patentable technologies related to virtual reality and augmented reality. The shift to virtual reality may also create additional issues related to maintaining the confidentiality of trade secrets. As having appropriate measures in place to maintain secrecy is one of the fundamental legal requirements for the protection of trade secrets, the virtual landscape will require new methods to maintain this secrecy beyond the orthodox methods of signing trade secret agreements. non-disclosure or limitation of access with biometric technology.
The metaverse will present challenges for intellectual property law and IPR holders, but there will also be significant opportunities for intellectual property to evolve and become compatible with the metaverse ecosystem. Seizing these new opportunities to adapt to the metaverse will be both useful and necessary to support the continued adaptation of intellectual property law to new technological advances.