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You all must have heard recently how the metaverse is entering into a new era of technology, connectivity, e-commerce, and much more. Even the social media platform Facebook has been rebranded and is now known as Meta, it’s the founder Mark Zuckerberg’s grand ambition to reimagine this platform as “a metaverse company, building the future of social connection.” Metaverse opens up transformative opportunities but we see many challenges in this road ahead.

Metaverse is a virtual reality world where people can socialize, work, and do shopping online in different digital spaces, this is somewhat similar to what gaming platforms already contain. With the technological developments taking place and the time, people spend online is increasing, the real lives and the virtual lives of the people are getting mixed and intertwined. Every industry be it art, entertainment or e-commerce is entering into this new world of metaverse to explore new opportunities. We can see metaverse in action in various industries like in virtual reality games such as Fortnite, Lone Echo, and Minecraft VR. Music and entertainment industries are also entering by hosting concerts on the metaverse platform. Even in the sports industry, they are building virtual stadiums for the audience to enjoy football matches and also to buy their virtual merchandise. In the future, the major opportunities would be seen in government services and online learning. Cryptocurrency will be hugely used while making transactions in the metaverse.

With this transformation there lies various risks and issues for users, owners, and players across the platform in the entire world. And one such issue would be Intellectual Property Rights which are very important in the entire setup. The metaverse, like any virtual environment, requires laws and guidelines to safeguard each stakeholder's innovation, creativity, and distinctiveness. And that's where IP comes into play. Similar to the real world, Intellectual Property is what safeguards individuals' concepts and works in the metaverse, and it's crucial to prevent unauthorized copying, misuse of brands, and piracy of already-existing IP owners. The phrase "intellectual property" (IP) refers to a variety of works, from patents and trade secrets to trademarks and copyrights. In the metaverse, protectable IP assets can contain everything from literary works that are subject to copyright to all trademarks, which includes brands, slogans, and products that are covered by design patents.

Metaverse is rapidly growing and thus IP protection is needed. In the metaverse, IP infringement can take place at every step. For example, just like in the real world the selling of artwork in the metaverse can be both original and fake. Even trademark infringement can take place while buying and selling of virtual goods. These reasons are strong enough to persuade someone to think about safeguarding their intellectual property before using the Metaverse. There is a huge possibility for the companies to grow in this expanding platform of metaverse all around the world. But this can only be beneficial if there is appropriate protection of the IPs to prevent getting indulged in legal matters with rival and overseas companies.

For instance, brand owners looking to advertise their trademarks in the metaverse may be able to do so in a number of ways, such as by organizing virtual sponsored events, virtual billboards, or even in virtual "malls" where customers can view a brand owner's virtual products. Effective metaverse marketing initiatives may boost brand loyalty and boost sales of both digital and physical items. However, trademark infringement and replicas will unavoidably follow as more and more brand owners start providing branded digital goods and services in the metaverse. It will be crucial for brand owners to obtain valid trademark protection that covers the metaverse because it may be difficult to forecast the actual type of infringement.

A proactive trademark registration system for all virtual goods and services can be used to mitigate the aforementioned dangers of trademark infringement. Additionally, it is possible to use virtual investigators, such as humans, artificial intelligence, and automated systems, to make sure that any violations of copyright, trademark, or patent are found and remedied. The goodwill and reputation built up by the trademark owner in the traditional market may be diluted and damaged if the trademark issues in the metaverse are handled carelessly. Some forward-looking brand owners have already taken steps by applying to registering their trademarks for goods and services relating to the metaverse, including downloadable virtual goods for use in online virtual worlds, retail stores featuring virtual goods, and providing digital collectible services.

The emergence of the Metaverse has an incredibly bright future for intellectual property. The metaverse will introduce fresh and cutting-edge technologies including AR and VR-related technology, advanced virtual goods and services, software and games with copyright protection, trade secrets, etc. As they want to expand in the metaverse, brand owners should think about how to build their virtual marketplace with suitable trademark registrations, a strong policing strategy, and acceptable licenses and terms of use. These will pose various challenges for the Intellectual Property law as well as the IP Holders. However, this will also provide a chance for IP law to advance and keep pace with technological advancements. The necessity to make use of these new possibilities and integrate with the Metaverse system will increase, and doing so will be very beneficial. We are positive that as applications and disputes of this nature are filed with trademark offices and pertinent forums, they will be investigated and decided upon, leading to the development over time of a number of reasonably accepted standard practices that will serve as a standard and eventually find their way into corresponding legislation. This will motivate businesses to enter the digital virtual market.

Navin Kumar Jaggi

Pratishtha Gupta


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