Singapore’s Second Ministry of Law is exploring ways to offer legal services in the metaverse. The ministry outlined its ideas on July 20 at TechLaw Fest 2022. Some of the services it plans to offer include marriage proceedings on the metaverse, government services, and dispute resolution. There are also legal challenges to filing trademarks for Metaverse-related goods and services in China. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the challenges of doing so.
Filing trademarks for Metaverse-related goods
Trademarks are a critical step in protecting brands in the Metaverse. They are a way to confirm legal ownership of virtual goods and services. Often, it is difficult to determine exactly what a trademark is. That is why it is imperative to carefully define your virtual goods and services, including the name and slogan for your brand. Listed below are some of the things you should look for when filing a trademark application.
While there is a high likelihood of infringement claims, there are also risks of bad actors attempting to usurp valuable metaverse trademark rights. Be on the lookout for bad faith applications, which have already been discovered for a number of fashion brands in the United States. Such bad faith applications can eat up a brand’s resources and lead to massive legal bills. So, be prepared to defend your brand.
Filing trademarks for Metaverse-related services in China
While the Chinese government has approved a few metaverse-related trademarks, many companies are still wary of exploiting this unregulated space. The country has a first-to-file policy that gives exclusive rights to the first registrant despite not having actually used the trademark in commerce. While this policy is beneficial for new businesses, it also opens the door to bad-faith registrations. In the United States, trademark rights are granted to the first person to use a mark in commerce. Regardless of the legal issues involved, filing trademarks for metaverse-related services in China should be considered as a crucial first step.
Because of the uncertain nature of the market, the Chinese government is encouraging foreign companies to file trademarks for Metaverse-related services. The hope is that they will be able to gain a presumption of ownership and validity. If this does not work, brand owners should file new applications to protect their intellectual property. In addition, trademark filings for these types of services are growing quickly in China.
Challenges of filing trademarks for Metaverse-related goods in China
Filing trademarks for Metaverse-related goods and services in China presents many challenges. The Chinese government has adopted a “first-to-file” policy, which gives exclusive rights to the first party to register a trademark, even if that party has not actually used it. While this policy benefits new businesses, it also opens the door to bad faith registrations. In contrast, in the U.S., the first person to use a mark in commerce is granted trademark rights. Consequently, it is important for foreign brands to file trademark applications for Metaverse-related goods in China as quickly as possible.
Another issue for metaverse-related goods is the influx of counterfeit and pirated products. This trend is likely to continue, with bad actors attempting to exploit trademarks in this new realm. The fashion brand Hermes recently sued an artist who had sold an NFT version of its Birkin handbag for $23,000 – a price comparable to its original price. Meanwhile, others are partnering with metaverse platforms to develop new products and services based on metaverse-related goods.