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The Metaverse is a virtual reality world in which people are expected to socialize, play, and work and is comprised of online, shared, and persistent digital spaces. It is considered the successor to mobile internet. With technological developments, our virtual lives and our real lives mix and intertwine. The metaverse will be the culmination of such a mix where people will mostly be involved in virtual lives. The major contributors to the Metaverse are advancements in virtual reality, augmented reality, distributed ledger system, and blockchain. The industries most likely to influence the introduction of Metaverse are finance, entertainment, education, and gaming. Cryptocurrencies are also likely to be widely used in transactions on Metaverse platforms. Given this transformation, there will be new challenges and risks for users, owners and all actors involved in the process. One such issue is that of intellectual property rights, it will be crucial for everyone involved in the process to understand the IPRs associated with the entire setup.
Intellectual activity in the metaverse
The transformation of the mobile internet into a metaverse will likely bring new opportunities for inventors and brand owners to develop equipment and software such as automated reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices. Going further, they will try to improve usability and make these devices cheaper and durable. This has a direct relationship with intellectual property rights, as more patentable inventions will come to market. Brands providing virtual goods and services and physical equipment will also emerge, resulting in the establishment of a virtual brand domain. There will be IP objects both in the virtual world and in the real world. User-generated content will take the platform to the next level. When it comes to trademarks, most unconventional trademarks such as sound trademarks, motion picture trademarks, etc. will be used to distinguish the marks. As entirely new products and services will enter the market, it will be necessary to create a new category of goods and services such as downloadable virtual goods, virtual goods retail services and online entertainment services. With regard to goods such as glasses and other equipment, they will be subject to patent protection, while software-related technologies, including games, will be protected by copyright.
From the above, it can be reasonably understood that general IP issues such as territoriality, infringement, licensing, unauthorized use, etc., will continue to occur in the metaverse, as is the case with existing virtual platforms. Although the Metaverse aims to provide interoperable and decentralized virtual worlds with seamless switching, it will not work smoothly due to current licensing structures. Today, the various virtual worlds operate as locked rooms controlled by unique entities, which users cannot easily change. Therefore, any entity wishing to intervene in the metaverse must establish clear IP license agreements with the metaverse platform provider. This raises questions such as duration, territory, royalty rates and scope of the license.
Intellectual Property Violation in the Metaverse
Due to the complex nature of operations in Metaverse, it is likely that intellectual property violations will occur on a regular basis. Also, due to the complexity of the interactions, it would be difficult to identify offenders. Therefore, in order to remedy this situation, new and advanced mechanisms are needed to combat the infringement. For example, selling copyrighted NFT artwork in the metaverse can have both genuine and fake artwork. Likewise, trademark infringement can occur when buying and selling virtual goods. Patent infringement can also occur in the process of manufacturing virtual or physical equipment. Finally, trade secrets generated or shared through virtual platforms, the highest priority thing in the metaverse, will also be susceptible to hijacking.
The aforementioned risks related to trademark infringement can be protected by a proactive trademark registration system for all virtual goods and services. Regular monitoring through built-in mechanisms can help identify online copyright infringement. Additionally, virtual investigators comprising humans, artificial intelligence, and automated systems can be deployed to ensure copyright, trademark, or patent infringement is identified and addressed.
IP management via NFT
In the event that a company’s virtual goods or services exist beyond a single metaverse platform, NFT technology can be used. This technology integrates and establishes rights with the content, associated with the goods and services. Information such as descriptions of the product concerned, its ownership history, the extent of the corresponding rights, etc., are attached. This information, when incorporated at the point of purchase, clarifies permitted and unauthorized uses of the product. Moreover, this information remains attached to the product throughout its digital lifecycle even when it moves from one platform to another. This is one of the most effective ways to protect a brand’s intellectual property.
Intellectual property really has a promising future with the development of Metaverse. Metaverse will bring new and advanced inventions such as augmented reality and virtual reality related technology, virtual and advanced branded goods and services, copyrighted software and games, trade secrets, etc. . requiring advanced mechanisms for their repair. When it comes to trade secrets, current methods such as signing non-disclosure agreements or limiting access through biometric technology will not suffice.
There are challenges for both intellectual property law and IPR owners. However, at the same time, it will be an opportunity for intellectual property law to evolve and keep pace with technological developments. Taking advantage of these new opportunities and becoming compatible with the Metaverse system will be the growing need, and it will be extremely valuable.
IP protection in the metaverse
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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