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Trademarks for Metaverse Virtual Products: A Guide

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Following its rebranding as “Meta” and the announcement of its ambitious plan to create the “Metaverse,” the tech behemoth formerly known as “Facebook” garnered significant attention in the past year. This development implies that the metaverse is poised to offer an immersive e-commerce experience within a three-dimensional digital realm. While the Metaverse is still in its nascent stages, numerous companies are strategically positioning themselves to capitalize on the vast e-commerce opportunities expected to emerge within this innovative virtual world.

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What Exactly Is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse represents a network of interconnected 3D virtual realms with a primary focus on fostering social connections. It constitutes a simulated digital environment that seamlessly integrates augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), blockchain technology, and the fundamental principles of social media to construct immersive spaces where users can engage with one another, mirroring interactions in the physical world.

Digital Assets in the Modern Era

Amidst the current buzz and skepticism surrounding digital assets such as cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”), a growing number of individuals and businesses are actively engaged in creating and providing virtual goods and services within the Metaverse. This trend is evident in the increasing volume of applications submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for trademark registrations specifically intended for use within virtual reality environments. This underscores the growing interest and investment in the potential of the Metaverse as a burgeoning marketplace for digital assets and experiences.

McDonald’s is diving into the Metaverse trend with big plans for a virtual restaurant experience centered around their iconic Big Mac. The global fast-food giant is taking steps to establish a presence in the Metaverse, and they’re not holding back. McDonald’s has recently submitted ten patent applications related to the Metaverse, outlining their intentions to serve meals both virtually and in the physical world, offer entertainment services, and even delve into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

These patent applications have been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as McDonald’s joins the growing list of major corporations exploring opportunities in the Metaverse. The patents detail McDonald’s plans to offer “virtual food and beverage goods” and make available “downloadable multimedia files comprising artwork, text, audio, and video files, as well as non-fungible tokens.” Beyond this, McDonald’s is also looking to provide virtual shopping services for a range of items.

Additionally, McDonald’s isn’t limiting its Metaverse ambitions to just food-related experiences. The company has also filed patents under its McCafe brand, which will not only offer food and drinks but also venture into the realm of “online real and virtual concerts.” In essence, McDonald’s is gearing up to provide a multifaceted Metaverse experience that caters to a wide range of virtual and physical needs.

Top Trademark Brands Venturing into the Metaverse

1. Gucci’s Adventure in Roblox
In May 2021, Gucci embarked on a two-week art project within the virtual realm of Roblox, a popular gaming platform among the younger demographic. This creative endeavor aimed to boost the brand’s recognition among Roblox users. The project brought to life a digital replica of a real-world art exhibit in Florence. Within this virtual space, players’ avatars had the opportunity to don digital Gucci attire while exploring themed environments. As they traversed through the virtual world, their avatars absorbed characteristics from each unique location they visited.

2. Tafi and Coca-Cola’s NFT Auction
In July 2021, Coca-Cola partnered with Tafi’s team of 3D artists to organize an innovative virtual “loot box” auction for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This auction managed to raise an impressive sum of over $1 million. The lucky winner of the auction was promised not only a tangible Coca-Cola refrigerator but also digital clothing items within the open-source gaming platform, Decentraland, which operates on the Ethereum blockchain.

3. Louis Vuitton’s Digital Game
In celebration of its centenary, Louis Vuitton made a remarkable foray into the world of gaming. The brand introduced “Louis the Game,” a unique digital experience that pays homage to its founder. This game offers a captivating narrative and an expansive universe to explore, reminiscent of a PlayStation role-playing game. Players immerse themselves in collecting virtual items and personalizing their avatars with a distinct Louis Vuitton flair. To add an element of rarity, 30 exclusive NFTs, created by the renowned artist Beegle, were strategically hidden throughout the game. Unlike typical blockchain games, these NFTs are not tradable in any marketplace, making them prized digital collectibles.

4. Pokémon’s Collaboration with Selfridges
To commemorate Pokémon’s 25th anniversary in 2021, Selfridges teamed up with designer Charli Cohen and Yahoo RYOT Lab to create “Electric/Metropolis.” This virtual city provided users with the opportunity to purchase exclusive virtual and physical merchandise related to Pokémon. The fusion of digital and tangible items added a unique dimension to the celebration of this iconic brand within the metaverse.

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Safeguarding Trademark Rights within the Virtual Realm of the Metaverse

The applications submitted by the mentioned firms encompass a wide array of sectors and notably extend beyond those exclusively engaged in digital offerings. A prevailing expectation among many is that the metaverse will usher in a novel virtual reality marketplace online. This anticipation is underscored by the surge in trademark applications at the USPTO about virtual goods and services, which coincided with the Metaverse’s introduction. The emergence of the metaverse is poised to exert an impact on trademark rights in the tangible world, despite its entirely digital and virtual nature.

This article endeavors to offer a comprehensive overview of the subject matter. It is important to note that the information provided here may not universally apply and should not be substituted for specialized legal counsel tailored to specific circumstances. If you have inquiries concerning the Metaverse and related Intellectual property (IP) infringement, please feel free to reach out to us. We are here to assist you.

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