11 August 2023 • 5 min read
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Metaverse is a word that’s created a lot of buzz in recent times, especially since Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s rebrand to Meta in 2021. But this will bring challenges for your brand and trademarks. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to trademark protection in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse seems exciting and full of opportunities like the internet did a few decades ago.
And the internet didn’t disappoint, opening up new possibilities on every front, creating a world online where people can build businesses, transact, entertain, learn, and even carry out complex legal procedures.
And the Metaverse is all set to take this to the next level. It has the potential to generate up to $5 trillion in value by 2030, equivalent to the size of Japan’s economy, which is today the third-largest in the world.
The short answer — nobody knows.
While everyone is excited about it, they have yet to be able to land on a clear definition. The World Economic Forum defines it as “an immersive, interoperable, and synchronous digital world.”
This is while Mark Zuckerberg describes it as “a set of interconnected digital spaces that lets you do things you can’t do in the physical world. Notably, it’ll be characterized by social presence.”
For now, let’s think of it as a more expansive virtual world.
One where a lot of currently cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and the Internet of things, will come together and be widely accessible and usable for everyday activities.
Imagine a world where all your devices can interact with each other. What would that look like? Maybe they can predict your preferences and patterns to work for you intuitively in a virtual environment. Or perhaps you’ll work in a virtual space where you can feel like you’re sitting next to your coworkers in a virtual boardroom.
You could also be driven around in self-driving cars that can automatically choose the best routes.
This is the most basic version of the Metaverse, and studies found that 59% of consumers are excited about transitioning their everyday activities to the Metaverse.
This could mean many things, from downloadable virtual goods and entertainment services to retail store services featuring virtual clothing and digital currencies. The possibilities of virtual reality and a virtual world are endless.
In these virtual environments, we’ll be more interconnected than ever before. Brands and businesses will have a whole new playing field to compete.
Brands like Nike, Gucci, and TIME Magazine poured money into metaverse initiatives in 2022. They hope to revolutionize experiential brand engagement and maybe even offer virtual goods.
There’ll be new opportunities for brand owners to engage with consumers. But there’ll also be significant challenges, such as creating a distinctive brand identity and a loyal customer base.
Many have already begun preparing themselves for this new battlefield. But how can you prepare your brand for this disruption?
Here are some steps to ensure brand protection in the Metaverse.
The first step towards protecting your brand is to prepare yourself.
We learned a valuable lesson from the rise of digital and social media marketing. Businesses that saw the potential of this space early on managed to stay ahead of the competition.
The Metaverse is still in the early stages of development. So it’s a good idea to put together a team or task force focused on understanding the Metaverse. This team can analyze the implications for your industry, sector, and/or brand.
The more you and your organization know about it, the easier it’ll be to formulate a strategy. And that’ll keep you ahead of the curve.
The boundaries between physical and virtual worlds are blurred further by the Metaverse. Brands are facing a whole new reality, quite literally.
Especially for small businesses, this can be a considerable challenge. That is, given the time, effort, and resources to build a brand.
So how can you ensure your brands don’t lose the brand equity, reputation, and value you’ve built up over the years? The first step is registering your trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
This’ll help convert your digital assets into intellectual property assets.
During an application for trademark filing with the USPTO to register your brand’s trademark, try to cover all possible areas you want to expand into. This includes any sub-brands you may have and variations of these as well.
It’s advisable to take help from a trademark attorney or a legal expert at this stage. This’ll help you do an IP audit to identify your weak spots. You could also use this time to identify potential IP assets like possible materials for copyright and patents.
The Metaverse is a continuously evolving entity. Being a trademark owner will help protect your brand from being used wrongfully, misrepresented, or disassociated. A trademark will also give you legal protection in case of infringement.
Suppose you’re a business owner who sees the potential of the Metaverse for your business. In that case, this is the right time to forge strategic partnerships and relationships with metaverse platforms such as Decentraland, The Sandbox, and Roblox.
This helps maintain a presence and channel for communications with the architects of the Metaverse.
Metaverse partners could help to build layers of IP protection relevant to your brand at the development stages. They might even save you from costly trademark infringement lawsuits further down the road.
Such metaverse partners would also help to establish your brand’s credibility with new consumers and metaverse users. Brand owners can protect their brands against an influx of new brands in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse could usher in a virtual world, which could be a game-changer.
This could even be as disruptive as significant innovations like the internet and mobile technology have been over the last two decades.
It’s both a challenge and an opportunity for brand owners. But a strong foundation of business principles and a sound understanding of intellectual property rights can go a long way in helping business owners adapt. You’ll likely have a competitive advantage with strong digital assets and trademarks in the Metaverse.
And these can be pillars of growth as you take your brand to new consumers in a whole new universe. Or should we say, METAVERSE?
In the Metaverse, companies can create a virtual world to offer a more immersive and interactive experience with their products. Consumers can interact with products more closely before buying anything, so it could be more customizable and effective than traditional advertising channels.
Some brands are even exploring the possibilities of setting up virtual e-commerce stores where goods may be bought by exchanging non-fungible tokens.
Roblox (56 million daily users) is one of the most popular Metaverse platforms. It offers products such as games, virtual currency, and even virtual goods. Users can make and sell virtual clothing, accessories, and animated avatars.
Trademark infringement in the Metaverse can include unauthorized use of a brand’s trademark or logo, selling a virtual product similar to a brand’s original product, or using a brand’s name in a way that causes confusion in the minds of consumers.
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Amrusha is a versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in journalism, broadcast news production, and media consulting. Her impressive career includes collaborating extensively with prominent global enterprises. She garnered recognition for her exceptional work in producing acclaimed shows for Bloomberg, a renowned business news network. Notably, these shows have been incorporated into the esteemed curriculum of Harvard Business School. Amrusha's expertise also encompassed a 4-year tenure as a consultant at Omidyar Network, a leading global impact investing firm. In addition, she played a pivotal role in the launch and content strategy management of the startup Live History India.
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