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January 18, 2022

Comment: Would The Metaverse Encourage Brands To Adopt More Aggressive IP Policies?

The Metaverse brings with itself a myriad of opportunities for brands in terms of marketing and branding, customer engagement and diversification, market expansion, collaborations, and even new products – all of which translates into a digital economy. While the Metaverse brims with opportunities for brands to expand and grow, the move to the Metaverse will bring novel challenges not limited to the virtual world, but ones that would impact the real-life ability of a brand to obtain, manage and protect its Intellectual Property (IP). The author believes that the influx into the uncertainty of the Metaverse(s) will embolden brands to adopt more aggressive IP policies.

The Metaverse may seem like borderless virtual worlds between which a user can move through easily, however, each Metaverse is controlled by a single entity (Provider) that designs and controls its own virtual space. Therefore, brands looking to enter the Metaverse(s) need to be meticulous with their IP licensing arrangement with the Providers. Further, given the scale of content required to make a functional Metaverse, it is certain that a large part of it would be user generated. Brands would be required to take a befitting approach towards enforcement and management in instances when their IP interacts with such user generated content, particularly, content that is infringing upon their IP rights. The sheer volume of content that would be available on a Metaverse would make detecting infringement an arduous task for brands of all sizes.

Adapting laws to the current version of the Web took decades and is a work-in-progress; navigating and setting boundaries in the interoperable and territory agnostic Metaverse(s) will be far more challenging.  This brings challenges brands will face in enforcing IP rights through laws that are limited by territoriality. Unlike with the internet, brands’ reliance on intermediaries to assist with enforcement of their IP rights may not be straightforward. The interoperability of the Metaverse would open a pandora’s box of infringing content across various Metaverse(s) controlled by different Providers. Therefore, for brands to work together with these Providers would, as a first step, require them to establish an exhaustive and definitive IP licensing arrangement with each Provider, establish IP rights (such as trademark, design registrations etc) and an adaptive IP policy.

The uncertainty of the various aspects pointed out above would affect the ecosystem of Metaverse and the opportunities of IP creation and infringement. It is likely to leave brands navigating their IP asset protection, management and enforcement through evolving jurisprudence. Therefore, brands adopting more aggressive policies to grow and protect IP is all but inevitable. 

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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