The "IP and the Metaverse" seminar, hosted by The Institute of Brand & Innovation Law, at the University College London was attended by our IP Specialists Ellie and Lauren back in March. The event aimed to explore how intellectual property laws can apply to the emerging concept of the metaverse. The metaverse refers to a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. The seminar featured a panel of experts from various fields, including IP lawyers, game developers, and virtual reality experts. The panel aimed to discuss how existing IP laws can be applied to the metaverse, the potential for new markets and the future challenges.
One of the key issues discussed was the ownership of virtual assets. As virtual worlds and games become more sophisticated, the virtual assets created within them, such as virtual clothing, furniture and currency, can hold significant value. The panel explored and debated how current IP laws could be used to protect the ownership of these virtual assets and whether new laws were needed to address future disputes surrounding metaverse property.
The protection of trademarks and copyrights in the metaverse was also discussed. The panel examined how existing laws could be used to protect trademarks and copyright within the metaverse. For instance, the luxury retailer, Hermès, recently won the first round in a copyright and trademarks battle against digital artist, Mason Rothschild, over their sale of non-fungible tokens (NFT) 'MetaBirkins', depicting the famous Birkin handbag, in the United States.
Overall, the seminar provided attendees with an insight into the current state of IP laws and the challenges that may arise in the future in metaverse infringement suits. As the metaverse continues to evolve, gain popularity and open up new avenues, it is essential to understand how existing laws can be applied and whether new laws are needed to ensure the protection of IP rights.
Our thanks to Lord Justice Birss for chairing the event and to all of the panellists: Dr Stephen Hughes, Dr Michaela MacDonald, Darya Firsava and Tom Grogan, for their insightful thoughts and comments.
Written by Lauren Mills for ip21 Ltd