The International Trademark Association Releases White Papers on Trademarks in the Metaverse and NFTs
The International Trademark Association (INTA) has published two white papers, each with an eye towards the future and what are largely uncharted waters with regard to intellectual property (IP): Trademarks in the Metaverse: A Report from INTA and Non-Fungible Tokens: A Report from INTA. Championed by the INTA’s Emerging Issues Committee, both papers were co-written by more than 13 INTA committees and are among the first to examine these new technologies specifically from a trademark perspective.
The respective papers approach their topics—trademarks in the metaverse and NFTs—with the goal of making recommendations around the challenges posed by new digital ecosystems throughout the lifecycle of trademarks, particularly for decentralized virtual worlds that have yet to interpolate with each other. Without centralized control and governance, scams and infringements can proliferate.
“Our work exploring trademarks in the metaverse and NFTs is an example of how our Association seeks to get ahead of emerging technologies and support our global membership in navigating this exciting yet complex new frontier for brands and consumers alike,” said Emerging Issues Committee Chair Catherine Mateu (Armengaud Guerlain, France).
Both papers begin with calls for harmonization of the classification of trademarks in the metaverse and of NFTs, respectively. They include specific recommendations for how best INTA might guide the global IP community forward by framing the issues clearly, defining the terms by which they can be discussed, and suggesting paths the IP community can take to give brand owners the ability to define and defend their rights.
The white papers also explore and recommend further advocacy to address the issues trademark owners face in these fast-changing times, including:
- Guidelines for the courts and tribunals with an emphasis on their ability to exercise flexibility when determining enforcement in the metaverse,
- Educational materials regarding ownership, licensing, and assignment of trademarks across both physical borders and metaverse platforms, and
- Recognition for how NFTs and other intangible assets no longer fit neatly into existing legal doctrines, especially in the case of fair use, artistic freedom, and the first sale doctrine, and a call for new legal frameworks to be developed to keep up with these fast-developing platforms and newly emerging digital ecosystems.
“As a thought leader within the global IP community, it is incumbent upon INTA to develop resources such as these white papers. We are uniquely positioned to understand, speak to, and guide the conversation about issues which have raced far ahead of anything the legal world has addressed,” said INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo. “I’m incredibly proud to provide the first thoughts on matters as important as these, to both our membership as well as the wider creative, innovative, and business communities.”