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The “Metaverse” and intellectual property disputes: What’s coming

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2022 | Intellectual Property |

The company-formerly-known-as-Facebook is now called “Meta,” and its leaders want everybody to know that the future is here – in the form of something called the “Metaverse.” 

What’s the Metaverse? At its most basic, it’s a virtual world where people – via their avatars – can live, work and play. If it’s successful (and it probably will be), the real virtual world will become increasingly intertwined. 

You can also expect intellectual property (IP) disputes to explode. 

What kinds of IP disputes can people expect? 

Within the virtual world of the Metaverse, you can probably expect the same sort of intellectual property issues and disputes that you see today in the regular world – only with a twist: The law may take a while to catch up with the technological changes. 

That means that courts may struggle to apply real-world laws to a virtual setting as issues arise, like: 

  • Copyright: If you think non-fungible tokens are confusing, imagine how difficult it will be to draw legal distinctions between copyrights within the Metaverse and without. There will also be disputes over who is responsible for managing user-inserted Metaverse content that happens to be copyrighted.
  • Patent disputes: You can bet that there are going to be legal cases related to patents on existing technology and new technology, with many arguments on both sides about what counts as an “implementation of an abstract idea” (and is, therefore, not patentable) and what doesn’t.
  • Trademarks: What happens when users try to sell trademarked items inside the Metaverse? What happens if a brand doesn’t want to be included in a section of the Metaverse? That will also lead to disputes over “fair use” and anti-dilution claims. 

Like it or not, the Metaverse is coming – and this just barely skims the surface of the legal entanglements that are bound to arise. It’s wise to have experienced guidance going into this new “meta” age if you want to protect your IP.