The Rise in NFT and Metaverse-Related Trademark Applications
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- The curiosity, excitement, skepticism, and enthusiasm surrounding non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) and the metaverse is at an all-time high!
The curiosity, excitement, skepticism, and enthusiasm surrounding non-fungible tokens ("NFTs") and the metaverse is at an all-time high! Since we first discussed the metaverse, a number of individuals and corporations have debuted plans to venture into this virtual space, as evidenced by the rise of virtual goods trademark applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). This week's NFT Newsroom article discusses what a trademark is, and the rise of trademark applications associated with brands in the metaverse.
A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design (or a combination) that identifies a particular good or service. It's how consumers recognize brands in the marketplace and distinguish brands from competitors. A trademark identifies the source of goods or services, provides legal protection for the brand, and safeguards against counterfeiting and fraud. As the NFT industry continues to soar (surpassing $40 billion in 2021) an increasing number of brands are capitalizing on this movement and filing for trademark protection.
What follows are just a few examples of how companies and individuals from a myriad of industries are seeking to protect their intellectual property in connection with virtual goods and services.
- The Brooklyn Nets have filed three trademark applications (serial nos. 97226848, 97225218, 97224598) for the trademark "Netaverse" indicating they seek to become the first NBA team to enter the metaverse.
- Nike has filed seven different applications (serial nos. 97095855, 97095944, 97096945, 97096236, 97096950, 97096952, 97096366), for its most famous trademarks - "Nike," "Just Do It," "Jordan," "Air Jordan," the Nike swoosh logo, the Jordan silhouette logo, and a combination of the Nike name and the swoosh logo - for use on various virtual goods and services.
- Walmart has also filed seven new trademark applications (serial nos. 97197301, 97197298, 97197296, 97197334, 97197329, 97197328, 97197317) indicating its intent to create its own cryptocurrency and collection of NFTs in addition to making and selling virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products.
- Shaquille O'Neal, in partnership with Authentic Brands Group, has filed three trademark applications (serial nos. 97184881, 97184876, 97184867) for his brand "SHAQ" for entertainment services, namely, providing virtual footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear, bags, backpacks, sports equipment, art, toys and accessories for use in virtual environments.
- Kobe Bryant's estate has filed three trademark applications (serial nos. 97244916, 97244877, 97244917) for the terms "Kobe Bryant", "Mamba Forever", and "Mambacita." According to the filings, the marks will be used for virtual and digital goods such as art, avatars and collectible coins for use online and in virtual worlds.
- The Topps Company's trademark application for the Garbage Pail Kids (serial no. 97072832) seeks to protect downloadable electronic data files featuring artwork, text, images, audio, video and NFTs.
- Iconic hip-hop legends Grandmaster Flash and Jay-Z have filed trademark applications (serial nos. 97244525 and 97118679) signaling their intention for more involvement in online virtual worlds.
- The shoe company Crocs has filed a trademark application (serial no. 97212947) requesting the right to use the Crocs name on NFTs for footwear, clothing, bags, accessories and charms for decorating, as well as the software needed to create and sell the digital items.
- The Coachella Music Festival filed a trademark application (serial no. 97205715) for use which includes downloadable audio and video recordings featuring live musical performances authenticated by NFTs.
- The Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation filed a trademark application (serial no. 90796288) for the movie American Psycho seeking to protect digital materials including downloadable NFTs, digital tokens, digital stickers, and digital trading cards. Similarly, Vortex, Inc. filed an application (serial no. 97197245) for the film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which includes downloadable image files containing artwork authenticated by NFTs and downloadable multimedia files containing artwork relating to horror motion pictures authenticated by NFTs.
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