Are your brands prepared for the METAVERSE?
Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement that his most popular social network will be renamed META caused most of the population to hear the word metaverse for the first time .
Google was filled with queries about what the metaverse consisted of and, those who already knew what it was (or what it will be, or what it pretends to be) began to fill the industrial property offices of all countries in the world with applications for marks composed of the stem META 1 .
The obvious thing is that everything this boy touches, he makes it explode (understood in a good way). He is already the owner of social communications in the real world and he pretends to be so, too, in the virtual world. Of course, it gives us between 5 or 10 years to, first accept it and second, adapt, according to he himself stated at the launch of this new platform.
But what is the metaverse ?
Originating in the science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, this acronym that comes from the Greek -meta- (beyond) and -verse- (universe) refers to “an immersive and multisensory experience in the applied use of various devices and technological developments on the internet ” 2 : a concept as broad and attractive as it is unknown and potentially unlimited. A parallel digital universe where virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D are combined, and an endless number of technological terms yet to be invented where the user will “live”, communicate with their peers, travel to exotic countries or reproduce ancient Rome around them to attend a session of the Senate and relive a speech by Cicero.
Zuckerberg’s announcement has stirred the population, but the metaverse had already begun to take its first steps, beyond the creator of Facebook. Today, you can buy or rent a plot in Decentraland , install a stage on it, offer a concert and buy the ticket with the cryptocurrency created for it: MANA 3
But just as you can attend a concert or go to a museum, you can enter a virtual store, buy virtual shoes and adorn your virtual self with a unique and exclusive NFT 4 .
And this is where the big brands are beginning to position themselves to protect their rights in a universe that only exists at the click of a button.
NIKE, TOMMY HILFIGER, CAMPER … among many others, began to cautiously extend the protection of their brands to classes such as 9 ( Downloadable virtual goods, namely, computer programs featuring footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear, bags, sports bags, backpacks, sports equipment, art, toys and accessories for use online and in online virtual worlds ); la 35 ( Retail store services in relation to virtual goods, namely, footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear sports bags, backpacks, sports equipment, art, toys and accessories for use online; on-line retail store services in relation to virtual merchandise, namely, footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear, bags, sports bags, backpacks, sports equipment, art, toys and accessories) and the41 ( Entertainment services, namely, providing on-line, non-downloadable virtual footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear, bags, sports bags, backpacks, sports equipment, art, toys and accessories for use in virtual environments ) 5
We all know that legislative regulation comes two steps behind reality and that in turn, the application of the norm by the Courts, another two later than the legislation itself. For this reason, questions as basic as what will happen with the principle of territoriality of trademarks 6 (if we all interact in a virtual world without borders, where is the possible infringement committed? In which country do I register my trademark? trademark in the US, for example, does it allow me to sue a third party who infringes it in the metaverse?) the specialty principle 7 (In the metaverse there are no products and services, only downloadable software in the form of virtual products) or which Judge will be competent and what laws will be applicable to an act of trademark infringement in the metaverse, I think it will take some time to resolve them.
If smart contracts 8 are already a reality, will there be virtual Courts in the metaverse that deal with settling disputes? And virtual lawyers? I am confident that I will be enjoying my retirement when that time comes.