Metaverse, fashion, and the IP world

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Metaverse, fashion, and the IP world

Metaverse, fashion, and the IP world seem to be completely unrelated topics. However, could it have some kind of connection point that combined them all at once? 

The Covid-19 pandemic hits all sectors hard, fashion included. The fashion world met a heavy obstacle, blocking their chance of rapid development in the 4.0 era. 

However, although the development is halted, the infringement action of other parties doesn’t stop. 

Some of the most famous cases that ended up in courts can be named such as Hermès International v. Mason Rothschild now pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

There are countless other cases piling up in courts with no affirmative date to be resolved. 

Another case that can be listed is the Rothschild and BIRKIN trademark infringement where the former sells 100 non-fungible token (NFT) images carrying the bag’s famous design and embellished with fur. Dubbed “MetaBirkins,” the NFTs are being sold in the metaverse.

With the Covid-19 slowly being controlled worldwide, many experts have stood up and expressed their views on the fashion world’s development. Most of them are positive as they remarked that fashion and IP should not have a problem.

Prof. Dr. Irene Calboli, professor of law at Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth said: “I would say the fashion industry is certainly readier than it was at the beginning of the pandemic. It needs to be even readier for the future, but the level of readiness has increased tremendously and exponentially across all segments – the luxury segment, the mid-segment, and the economy and fast fashion segment – without question.”

The connection between fashion and metaverse

As with every other aspect of society, fashion also dabbled in the metaverse world introduced by Mark Zuckerberg. 

Many big enterprises are using metaverse to market their products. Clothes, pants, dresses, shirts, jewelry, etc. are all digitalized and appeared on the Internet.  

On this matter, Calboli stated: “The metaverse is an alternative reality in which brands could have a presence, whether through video games or a variety of virtual media that allow them to stay relevant during a time in which brand acquisition and consumption of products, the physical goods, was more difficult. And in some way, Covid-19 has accelerated the importance of the metaverse.”

Fashion is a kind of special sector in society. It treats rich and poor people in the same manner. No matter your position, everyone can be fashionable. However, in the same manner, fashion is also targeted by IP infringements. 

Calboli explained: “There are some specific challenges that come to all trademarks. What goods and services are brands selling in the metaverse? What part of protection do they have or should they seek and for what products? And so here is where there is the brand extension of luxury bags, luxury watches, luxury jewelry, or luxury clothing that could be adopted through the metaverse. So these are the same goods, but on the metaverse, they’re virtual replicas of existing goods. In terms of registering trademarks, this question becomes relevant. Should I have another registration, another protection particularly if the products are not famous or well-known in the trademark jargon?”

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