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What is the Metaverse?

Talking about intellectual property & the  Metaverse right now is the equivalent of trying to explain the internet to a time traveler from the 1950’s… Error, cannot compute.

What we do know is that the Metaverse is the future. The Metaverse is a combination of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality, and video where users “live” within a digital universe. The metaverse is essentially virtual, augmented, and physical reality merged into a digital universe that blurs the line between interactions online and in real life.

I know right? Pretty cool.

The term Metaverse was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science-fiction novel “Snow Crash” which envisions a VR based successor to the internet. In the novel, people use digital avatars of themselves to explore the online world, often as a way of escaping a dystopia where a worldwide economic collapse occurs, and the federal government has ceded most of its power and territory to private organizations and entrepreneurs.

Real life, not real life, sort of real life? Who knows?

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

IP is protected in law by, for example, patentscopyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.

How will the Metaverse and IP coexist?

While the goal of the metaverse is a network of interconnected, decentralized worlds through which people can move freely, the reality of the metaverse today is that these worlds will most likely be governed by a single entity.

That means that any business interested in experimenting in the metaverse today must create clear IP license agreements with the metaverse platform provider. Typical clauses such as term, area, and royalty rates are crucial in any IP license, but the scope of the license should be given special consideration.

We asked attorney David Reider about the subject, and he had this to say, “As more people interact with others and transact business in the metaverse, the application of traditional legal principles will be stretched to their limits to accommodate the potential litigation growth. One of the main issues we are likely to see will be the ownership of assets and underlying IP related to the metaverse.”

Big Brands Entering the Metaverse

For consumer brands, the metaverse is the “next big thing” in terms of customer interaction. Brands will be able to give consumers the option to interact with and experience products and services in the metaverse without ever having to make or deliver a single item. For example, here are 8 Companies Exploring The Metaverse:

Legal Challenges with the Metaverse

For IP owners and users, the Metaverse raises novel difficulties that do not easily fit into established legal rules developed for the pre-metaverse world. The creation, ownership, and administration of virtual goods, artifacts, and belongings are anticipated to have a greater impact on IP theory and strategy.

Licensing

The new era of the metaverse is creating conversation about the interoperability of technology and how brands will work together in terms of accessibility.

Because of the metaverse’s nature, licensees require greater freedom to promote development and participation. A licensee will require a grant of rights that is broad enough to adapt to the metaverse’s changing environment without having to update the license on a regular basis.

Licensing entails an inescapable level of risk in both the physical world and metaverses, but licensors should anticipate and assess risks to lessen the possibility of difficulties.

Brand Theft

If brand theft occurs in a virtual environment, it poses concerns of jurisdiction and enforcement location due to the absence of traditional physical logistics of materials and distribution, as well as the lack of customs and borders. There are concerns about whether copyright and trademark law will still provide enough protection when these are border-bound rights in a world without borders.

Conclusion

These are some of the legal aspects that will arise as a result of the construction of a Metaverse. As each evolves and more people communicate, other critical issues such as data protection and privacy will quickly arise.

The whole immersion of distinct digital avatars hopping across digital environments will take years to come together but new advancements are expected as different products, services and capabilities merge and meld together, and investors pour resources into the Metaverse space.

For more information, please visit our website or call our Tampa office at 813-421-3883 to schedule your free consultation.

Stanton IP Law Firm is a Tampa based law firm focusing on protecting, enforcing, and monetizing Intellectual Property rights for their clients by obtaining patents both in the U.S. and abroad, trademarks at both the federal and state levels, copyrights on works of art, and keeping trade secrets confidential. Founded by Thomas H. Stanton, Stanton IP Law Firm leverages over 15 years in the technology industry to revolutionize the traditional law firm model in order to deliver results-oriented, client centric representation to clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.
**Disclaimer: These are simply examples of global brands entering the metaverse space and are not indicative of any Stanton IP Law clients.

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