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Intellectual property blog – NFTs, the metaverse, and how to protect your business’s future

What are NFTs?

You may or may not have heard of NFTs before. If you haven’t, it is important to know about them. With the rise of the metaverse and the innovation of the future, knowing how to protect your Intellectual Property rights in the digital world is becoming increasingly significant.

So, exactly what is an NFT?  Good question! who knows… we do… and you will in about three sentences. Put simply, an NFT is a unit of value, or a “token”, with a unique ID linked to an underlying asset e.g., digital artwork. NFTs are sort of like an authenticity certificate claiming you own the original file of said underlying asset. NFT stands for non-fungible-token, which essentially means that it has a digital signature making it impossible to be exchanged for or equal to one another. Sounds easy right?

How does this concern your business’s IP rights?

Although buying an NFT gives access to the original file, it does not give access to the copyright ownership. While this sounds simple enough, it has not stopped digital artists minting NFTs for copies of the original asset to create confusion and profit off the original brand.

For example, the Hermes Birkin bag, known for its exclusivity.
An NFT was created mimicking the Birkin bag by a digital artist Mason Rothschild, the bag was then made and sold without attribution to the Hermes brand for approximately 5 to 25 Ethereum ($13,000 to $65,000). The artist has since been sued by Hermes for creating the “MetaBirkin” NFT, alleging that the use of this NFT would cause customer confusion as well as profit loss – both of which is the case.

This case is the first major example of a brand taking legal action over the use of its trade marks in the metaverse, and its outcome has shown not only the risks and possibilities of the metaverse, but how artists and companies should prioritize their IP rights even in the digital world.

What to do next? Briffa’s comment:

The first step is to take advice, as soon as possible to understand the risks and opportunities your IP rights face in the digital world. In the world of Intellectual Property, mistakes in the early stages can be costly to fix in the future. If you are concerned for your IP rights in the digital world of the future, it is always best to seek professional legal advice. At Briffa, we have a team of qualified, friendly, intellectual property lawyers who will be happy to help with any enquiries you may have. We offer free calls/meetings to all new clients wishing to discuss their business. Contact us on info@briffa.com to book your consultation. We would love to hear from you.

Written by Sophiya Savrimoothoo, Work Experience at Briffa

 


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