Staying Trendy: Popular Fashion Brands Are Jumping On The Metaverse Train With Trademarks Filing

Fashion brands are filing for trademarks in the metaverse in a bid to protect their intellectual property from third parties.
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Quick take:

  • Creators on metaverse platforms are selling digital items featuring logos of luxury fashion houses.
  • Chair of legal firm says any brand should be filing for trademarks in the metaverse right now.
  • Smaller brands without much financial backing could lose the race to defend their property rights in the virtual world.

As luxury brands make their way into the metaverse, they are starting to file for trademarks to protect their intellectual property from third-party creators who are financially benefiting from selling digital assets with luxury brand logos on metaverse platforms.

In June last year, an NFT artwork of a Baby Birkin by artist Mason Rothschild sold for $23,500—more than what some Hermès Birkin bags cost in real life. Rothschild dropped a MetaBirkins NFT collection in December, prompting Hermès to speak out against the infringement of its intellectual property rights.

Unlike other luxury houses like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana and others who have tapped into the NFT space, Hermès says that it has yet to enter the NFT market as it “values the ‘tangible expression of handcrafted physical objects’.”

The decentralised nature of NFTs gives creators the ability to sell images featuring established brands’ logos and claim ownership of them, triggering more discussions on copyright infringement in the metaverse. As with counterfeit brand-name goods in real life, brands are concerned about the implied connection to the NFT artists and losing profit to the creators in the metaverse who don’t have authorised use of the brands’ logos and product likeness. 

With no concrete legal terms established in the uncharted territory of the metaverse yet, third parties have even filed for trademark applications in November last year to use the Gucci and Prada logos in the virtual world. 

While that may seem like a race between third parties and brands to acquire trademark rights, the brands can get third party trademark applications rejected by filing oppositions with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Speaking to Vogue Business, Anthony Lupo, chair of legal firm Arent Fox – who has luxury fashion clients such as Diane von Furstenberg, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen – says that “any brand should be filing for its trademark in the metaverse right now”. He adds that “all his clients are” doing so.

Other big brands that have filed for trademarks in the US and EU for items in virtual environments include Ralph Lauren, DKNY, and Nike. 

While famous brands are most likely to get the courts to overrule third party trademark filings, smaller brands without as much financial backing could struggle to secure intellectual property rights in the metaverse just as they have been struggling in real life.

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