The immersive digital medium of a metaverse raises several issues, including intellectual property (IP) rights over virtual goods and materials, including avatars, produced by companies and users, and enforcement of IP rights if violated. As users may purchase and sell goods, services, and even properties within the Metaverse, questions are raised about how owners of IP rights may defend their marks against IP violators within the virtual world. There is much uncertainty about what a metaverse is and how entrepreneurs can protect their intellectual property in this new virtual world. The Metaverse has taken over the world, and with that, it has created many questions for the fashion world regarding its implications for IP rights.
Intellectual property rights are likely among the most critical assets of an online, three-dimensional virtual world like the Metaverse on Meta, but protecting these assets is expected to bring with it an array of complicated, novel legal challenges. IP protection, and related considerations about enforcement and licensing, are made all the more difficult when considering the possible ease with which consumers, virtual retailers, and copyright violators may migrate between the platforms within the Metaverse.
Suppose third parties hold rights to the content. In that case, the firm creating a virtual experience on the metaverse platform must ensure its license with the IP owner or licensee is broad enough to encompass the development and license of content for virtual experiences on the metaverse platforms. Even if a company owns intellectual property rights in the content, it may already have licensed the intellectual property rights associated with using the Metaverse to third parties. Indeed, even sellers that choose not to implement retail presences on Metaverse must be aware of the potential that third parties could engage in actions within the Metaverse that violate the seller’s valid intellectual property rights in ways that could adversely affect rights holders in the physical world.
The Metaverse would certainly allow individuals to create or exploit content that would be protected under intellectual property laws. Of course, although the Metaverse is still evolving, it will surely enable individuals to build their own spaces to interact. While an individual might hold ownership over some piece of real estate within the Metaverse, others might own corresponding digital things and properties. A given rights-holder would have the standing to enforce exploitation of their IP rights within the Metaverse, such as attaching it to virtual wallets or jackets designed for digital avatars. Trademarks are still the primary way of protecting these virtual assets. Still, it is complicated because the virtual assets in a metaverse world may be images, video content, or anything not static, making them difficult to protect in terms of a trademark.