How does the EUIPO deal with virtual goods, non-fungible tokens and the metaverse?

Companies are offering a wide range of products and services relating to Web 3.0. Many of these goods and services are completely new and no legal framework is in place on how to classify and deal with these products and services. This also includes Intellectual Property Rights as national and international trademark registration offices have to decide which of these new products and services can be protected under trademark laws.

The European Union Intellectual Property office (EUIPO) has now published the following practice tips on protection of virtual goods, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and services relating to the metaverse under EU trademark law:

  • Virtual goods are proper to Class 9 because they are treated as digital content or images. However, the term virtual goods on its own lacks clarity and precision so must be further specified by stating the content to which the virtual goods relate (e.g. downloadable virtual goods, namely, virtual clothing).
  • The 12th Edition of the Nice Classification will incorporate the term downloadable digital files authenticated by non-fungible tokens in Class 9. NFTs are treated as unique digital certificates registered in a blockchain, which authenticate digital items but are distinct from those digital items. For the Office, the term non fungible tokens on its own is not acceptable. The type of digital item authenticated by the NFT must be specified.
  • Services relating to virtual goods and NFTs will be classified in line with the established principles of classification for services.

The EUIPO also announced that this approach will set out in the forthcoming 2023 draft Guidelines. Any stakeholders can make comments until 3 October 2022.

We welcome the guidance provided by the EUIPO on how best to trademark their Web 3.0-related goods and services. Web 3.0 is a very dynamic market, and it is to be expected that more such guidance will soon follow. We shall be monitoring and reporting on developments in Europe and worldwide to ensure the best possible protection for brand owners.

If you have any questions on how to get your trademark registered, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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